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North Carolina State Library 






Nashville, Tenn. ; Dallas, Tex. 

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Copyright, 1905 


Book Agents M. E. Church, South 


*" PAGE 

By Way of Suggestion i 

A View of the Kingdom 15 

The Outgrowing Power of Christianity 47 


Christ's Doctrine of the Child and the King- 
dom 75 


The Child as the Subject of Religious Educa- 
tion 115 


The Educational Function Recognized. 129 


The Education of What ? 141 


iv Contents. 


The Church and the Home 155 

The Child in the Home 179 


The Place and Status of the Sunday School. . 207 


Some Essentials of Successful Sunday-School 
Work 227 

The Sunday School as a Field of Training 249 

Religion in Popular Education 283 

The Church Through All .0 305 




Thoughtful men in surveying the present 
position of Christianity in its hold upon the 
world are questioning, some reverently and some 
otherwise, why it is that it has thus far failed to 
bring the race under its dominion. Is this fail- 
ure due to a lack of power in the scheme itself? 
Or is it due to misapprehensions and consequent 
false policies of propagation on the part of those 
who have been charged with its promulgation? 
The former view involves a position of serious 
unbelief, while the latter does nothing more than 
open up a field of most interesting and whole- 
some inquiry touching the human agencies in- 
volved in the establishment of the kingdom of 
God among men, and the laws by which such 
a kingdom must come. That the slowness of 
the progress of Christianity and its lapses are 
wholly chargeable to its human instruments, and 


4 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

in no wise to the scheme itself, becomes con- 
stantly clearer as each generation throws the 
light of its experience on this field of study. 

When the antagonisms which Christianity has 
had to encounter are considered, its achievements 
are truly wonderful. But they are even more 
so when we add to this external opposition the 
frequent failure of its adherents to regard the 
spirit which it breathes, and also certain laws, 
which are, according to the views of our day, 
fundamental to its existence and growth. 

A larger progress has been barred by a num- 
ber of what seem to be fundamental miscon- 
ceptions, and such as are duly guarded against 
in the teaching of Jesus. One of these is the 
assumption that the chief aim of the gospel 
is to save men in a world to come; to make 
them ready for some "far-off divine event, to 
which the whole creation moves." No such 
view is to be derived from the teaching of Jesus. 
He clearly taught that it was to save man in this 
life. He taught that a man who is not saved 
in and for this world in all his relations is not 

By Way of Suggestion. 5 

saved in any world, and that he who is thus 
saved is saved for all worlds. The doctrine of 
a heavenly salvation which contains so comfort- 
ing a truth has been allowed to discount, if not to 
substitute, the doctrine of the earthly salvation. 
It happens on this account that men are much 
perturbed over the question as to whether or 
not they will be saved in heaven, hereafter ; when 
the all-important question is, whether they are 
saved here and now. This too ready adjourn- 
ment of the question of salvation out of this 
world into a world which is yet to come has 
worked untold detriment to the kingdom of God 
among men. 

A kindred misconception is that the Son of 
Man came to save men from things rather than 
to things. He came to save his people from 
their sins, it is true; but this is only the great 
initiatory. And even the common interpreta- 
tion of this statement as indicating that the 
supreme purpose was to save an adult gen- 
eration of sinners, either that one to which he 
came in person or any other, is far from its 

6 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

broadest import. To save one from his sins is 
a vastly more significant work than to save one 
out of his sins. This latter Christ does in many 
cases, in all, indeed, where the transgressor of 
any age or degree of guilt fulfills the conditions. 
The brand plucked from the burning is a sublime 
fact; the life saved throughout from the devas- 
tating influences of sin is unspeakably greater. 
Jesus came to save his people from their sins 
ab initio in order that he might save them to all 
that at which the divine wisdom and goodness had 
aimed in their creation. The forgiveness of sins 
is the beginning of salvation, not the end of it. 

Closely allied with this error is another which 
has exerted a very large influence upon the 
thought and policies of the Church, namely, that 
when a man sinful in habit through many years 
has been converted he is saved in the largest 
sense. This view is so far from the truth as 
discernible in religious experience that it seems 
strange so many good and laborious men should 
have held it. Nevertheless, it has given rise to a 
violent and consequently somewhat spasmodic 

By Way of Suggestion. 7 

evangelism which has done much toward con- 
firming the thought of the Church in an inade- 
quate notion as to the real extent of God's pur- 
pose and power to save the world, and conse- 
quently as to the only sure method of doing it. 

It may at first sight seem harsh to say that a 
plan of evangelism that confirms each generation 
in the view that a converted adult is saved in the 
largest and best sense, and that this is the chief 
work of the Church, is to that extent a pernicious 
evangelism. Yet this is true, despite the fact 
that in the lapse of a higher and broader good 
much special, narrow good has been thereby ac- 
complished. It is not intimated in this that evan- 
gelism aimed at adults should be abandoned or 
intermitted. Rightly used it is a valuable part 
of the great process of soul-winning, just as 
gleaning was under the old agricultural order a 
part of harvesting. It has, and must continue to 
have, a very important place in the saving of 
men. Nothing, however, has been more abused 
in its use. A too exclusive reliance upon it has 
brought incalculable disaster, and must continue 

8 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

to do so as long as that reliance lasts. This ap- 
plies as well to a settled or pastoral evangelism 
as to that which goes at large. In so far as 
either leads men to depend supremely upon that 
order of work for the conversion or shepherding 
of the multitudes, it stands in the way of a 
more rational, scriptural, and efficient plan for 
the saving of the race. 

If it be argued that Christ and his apostles 
addressed themselves chiefly to the mature 
among men, and sought the conversion of the 
grown-up multitudes, a sufficient answer is not 
hard to find. They were laying the foundations 
of the kingdom by proclaiming the truth. They 
had no access with such a ministry to the chil- 
dren of the day. The truths which they taught 
could not be committed to children directly or 
at first hand. It was in this case as in the 
giving of the law through Moses. That law 
was committed to one grown-up generation, but 
never to another. Those who received it were 
bound by it to teach it diligently unto their 
children. The noise and quaking of Sinai 

By Way of Suggestion. 9 

were succeeded by the quiet and sweetness of 
the family school of religion. In the case of 
the first generation the law was planted in the 
ear, in the second it was sown in the heart. So 
it was with the work of our Lord and his disci- 
ples. Moreover, those labors, matchless as they 
were, and reenforced by an affluent power of 
miracle, failed to touch that generation further 
than to find here and there a place for planting 
the seed of the kingdom which was to be. When 
Jesus said over and over again to the best of his 
hearers, "O ! slow of heart to believe," he was 
uttering a general truth, or one applicable alike 
to all grown-up people who for the first time 
undertake to give serious consideration to spir- 
itual truth. There are thousands of children in 
Christendom to-day of comparatively tender 
years who know more of the plan of salvation 
both vitally and theoretically than Peter seems 
to have known at the time of his second call by 
the shores of Galilee. 

Every great evangelistic movement since the 
apostolic age has brought the same conviction, 

io The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

namely, that it is impossible for all the evangeliz- 
ing agencies of any given time to reach and trans- 
form any considerable part of that generation. 
It is perfectly clear that if the race is to be saved 
it must be brought about on the economic side by 
the outgrowing power of Christianity, and that 
this power cannot be expressed through even the 
mightiest agencies of adult evangelization. 

The one hope in the case has its foundations in 
an awful fact, and that fact is that three times 
in each century nature sweeps the earth clear of 
its inhabitants and brings new ones into their 
place. The writer has a neighbor still living 
(one hundred and nine years of age), since 
whose birth four billions of people have died and 
a greater number have been born. Along with 
this stands the fact that Christianity at the end 
of two thousand years has a nominal population 
not exceeding five hundred millions, or less than 
one-third of the world's inhabitants. At the 
same rate of progress it may be expected that 
the race will become nominally Christian about 
the year 6000 A.D. ; provided no allowance be 

By Way of Suggestion. n 

made for the fact that Christianity is just now 
for the first time since the apostolic age coming 
into serious contact with the hoary superstitions 
of the most populous and conservative nations of 
mankind; and provided further that no lapses 
such as have occurred in the past shall occur in 
the future. Even in the saying of this we cannot 
but remember that the day of Constantine was 
immediately followed by the revival of pagan- 
ism, and that the death of Charlemagne, which 
marked the culmination of another period of ag- 
gressive Church history, was the beginning of 
the Dark Ages. 

We live in a day of world-policies. The com- 
mon man talks in terms of nations and civiliza- 
tions; of reciprocities, diplomacies, alliances, and 
the like. And these are no mere dreams or 
empty idealizations. They are the household 
concerns of the family of nations. They affect 
the actual lives of men. The small merchant and 
the insignificant consumer are made to feel the 
effects of national and international conditions 
of commerce. They feel the chill of vast busi- 

12 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

ness movements, and even political movements, 
in atmospheres remote from their own. 

There is also a growing sense of world-fel- 
lowship. Not only has patriotism become large 
and intelligent, and broadened without becom- 
ing shallow, but there has come to be a copa- 
triotism as between the citizens of different na- 
tions. This sentiment working in conjunction 
with the broadened commerce has produced a 
sort of coparcenary interest in national affairs 
which in more than one instance of late has ex- 
erted a direct and controlling influence upon na- 
tional movements. 

These generalizations did not come about by 
mere individual suggestion to the masses. They 
are the products of long processes, the growth 
of centuries. As all sums total depend upon 
the included units, so likewise all civilizations 
but measure the included individual life. The 
social unit proper is the family. No man who 
is fully such liveth to himself. The normal man 
is the family man. The ethics of the crowd 
is at last the ethics of the family, not directly, 

By Way of Suggestion. 13 

that is, by a mere process of addition, but never- 
theless truly. The process by which the ethics 
of the multitude is derived from the ethics of the 
family resembles more a chemical process, which, 
be it noted, is none the less definite because more 
complex. It follows hence that the study and 
right direction of the household life of any na- 
tion is its richest and most available field of true 
and effective statesmanship. 

One of the most vital questions before the 
Church of our day is whether the citizenship of 
the kingdom shall be chiefly reared within or 
captured from without; or, as two able writers 
have stated it, whether the working policy of the 
Church shall be predominantly one of nurture, 
or of rupture; 1 of evolution, or revolution. 2 If 
we prefer a similitude from the vegetable world 
from which Jesus drew so freely in his parables 
of the kingdom, we may say that the question is 
really one of transplantation, or of growth from 
the seed. 

J Dr. Bushnell. 2 Rev. James Chapman. 



North Carolina State Library 



It is my purpose to consider in this chapter 
that parable of our Lord in which above all others 
he sets forth the power by which his kingdom 
shall come, and which involves necessarily cer- 
tain processes to be regarded by the Church in 
its part of the work. But before doing so, it is 
needful to make and answer an inquiry as to 
what is meant by the establishment of the king- 
dom of heaven among men. 

Was it Christ's purpose that the kingdom he 
came to build should when complete consist of an 
elective citizenship, gathered here and there 
throughout the earth and throughout the ages; 
a few comparatively, brought together, and into 
fellowship with him on the terms of repentance 
and faith, and by a divine nurture fitted for a 
place in the heavenly kingdom? Was it his no- 
tion, in other words, to select out of the earth the 

2 ('7) 

1 8 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

constituency of a kingdom which he is building 
not here but elsewhere ? Or, was it his intention 
to found an enduring empire of righteousness 
among men, a true theocracy with the race of 
mankind as its subjects? 

That the former view has furnished the work- 
ing theory of the Church hitherto, can scarcely 
be questioned. This is evidenced by what the 
Church has done and by what it has left undone. 
It is visible in its terms and in its systems of 
evangelism. It has, indeed, permeated the 
thought of mankind to such an extent as to have 
almost preoccupied the ground against any view 
which does not make the real kingdom to be 
the one among angels rather than the one among 

This view I deem to be wholly out of harmony 
with Christ's doctrine. That such an elective 
kingdom has existed as only a partial realization 
of Christ's ideal, is not denied; but the question 
about which we are concerned is not what must 
be looked upon at any given time as the kingdom 
of God in the world, but rather, what is Christ's 

A View of the Kingdom. 19 

doctrine as to the ideal and ultimate kingdom of 
God among men. 

It will readily be granted that a right view of 
this question must take into account the nature 
of God as the Father of all, the power and re- 
sources of Christ as the Master of his kingdom, 
the field of need in the sinful nature of man, and 
the divine glory as the final outcome of this 
kingdom. With these elements in view, it is 
scarcely possible to stop short of the conclusion 
that this kingdom is to be commensurate with the 
race, not only in geographic extent but in all 
other dimensions. Christ was revealed "to de- 
stroy the works of the devil," 1 to "put all things 
in subjection under his feet," 2 to draw all men 
unto himself. 3 "He comes to make his blessings 
flow far as the curse is found." The kingdom of 
God when fully established is to comprehend ev- 
ery possible interest of humanity, and the race 
itself is to be divinely informed, a temple inhab- 
ited of God. If it be said this is a long and diffi- 

1 1 John iii. 8. 2 Heb. ii. 8. 3 John xii. 32. 

20 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

i ^> 

cult undertaking, I reply that a long and difficult 
undertaking is worthy of all the agencies in- 
volved in it when the immortal destinies of a 
race and the divine glo r y are bound together in 
the issue. 

It is easy to see that the processes called for in 
the establishment of a kingdom according to the 
first view will necessarily differ widely from 
those demanded by the second. 

Jesus is, of course, the only authority on 
themes of this class. When we turn to his teach- 
ings to find out how this kingdom shall come, 
which is the great question about which we are 
concerned, we find but one doctrine, the doctrine 
of growth. It is notable that all the parables 
which set forth the progress of the kingdom, 
either in its individual existence in the heart of 
a believer, or as a kingdom taken collectively, 
are parables of growth. This will include the 
parable of the leaven, the action of which is also 
a form of growth. 

Chief among the parables of the kingdom is 
the one which is commonly called the parable 

A View of the Kingdom. 21 

of the seed growing gradually. It has been, 
and still is, a much-neglected parable by both 
commentators and preachers. It is recorded by 
Mark only. In this parable Jesus says: "So is 
the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed 
into the ground ; and should sleep, and rise night 
and day, and the seed should spring and grow 
up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth 
forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the 
ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when 
the fruit is brought forth, immediately he put- 
teth in the sickle, because the harvest is come." 1 

A little examination will show that this para- 
ble is broad enough to embrace most of what is 
contained in the others, and to add an original 
notion of the largest significance. 

The parable of the sower has to do primarily 
with the varieties of soil and certain incidents 
of growth. That of the tares sets forth the rela- 
tion of the good growths and the bad growths 
within the kingdom-field; that of the mustard 

1 Mark iv. 26-29. 

22 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

seed, the large development out of small begin- 
nings; and that of the leaven, the progressive 
nature of the kingdom in all the circles in which 
it is placed. 

The parable of the growing seed easily em- 
braces the parable of the sower in terms of "a 
man" who cast the "seed," and of "the ground" 
in which it was sown. There is here ample room 
for all items touching the varieties of soil and the 
incidents of growth. It likewise states in detail 
the germinal and expansive power of the seed as 
taught in the mustard seed, and it clearly involves 
the growth of tares along with the wheat if sown 
with it ; or instead of it, if sown instead of it. 

This parable is in a good sense in a category 
of its own; it is absolutely generic in its scope. 
It does not deal with incidents, circles, or classes, 
as some others do, but with a universal law and 
man's relation to it. This view is sustained by 
all the terms of the passage. We have here not 
the husbandman (georgos) but a man (anthro- 
pos). The use of this term embraces the widest 
notion of earthly agencies. 

A View of the Kingdom. 23 

The same general scope is seen in the thing 
sown. The word sporos is the most generic 
term for seed. Indeed, its primary meaning is a 
"sowing" of whatever kind. It would, there- 
fore, apply equally to all things under the law of 
growth, the character of the harvest being deter- 
mined by the specific nature of the seed sown. 

The place of the sowing is not the man's own 
"field" as in the parable of the mustard seed 
given by Matthew, 1 or his own "garden" given 
by Luke, 2 but the ground, literally, the earth. 

This simile has been called the parable of the 
seed growing gradually. It is in reality the par- 
able of the vegetable kingdom. The gradual 
growth of the seed is not the prime truth of the 
passage, though a very beautiful one, and fault- 
lessly expressed in the terms: "first the blade, 
then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear." 
These are but incidents, visibly measuring the 
great life process which starts from the earth 
and works restlessly on till the harvest is ready. 

iMatt. xiii. 31. 2 Luke xiii. 19. 

24 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

The reproductive power of nature as expressed 
through the kingdom of vegetation is made the 
analogue of that greater power in the spiritual 
world which through manifold processes makes 
for righteousness in men and which shall not cease 
its operations till the harvest shall come in the 
form of a perfected kingdom of God among men. 
Professor Bruce in his great study, "The 
Kingdom of God," makes use of this parable 
twice in the body of his work; once erroneous- 
ly as I think, and once inadequately; but in a 
footnote he makes certain observations which 
are exceedingly significant and suggestive. He 
says: "The parable above referred to contains 
the clearest statement of the truth that the law 
of growth obtains in the kingdom of God to be 
found in the New Testament. It is very doubt- 
ful whether this truth, in relation either to the 
individual or to the community was grasped by 
the apostles (not excepting Paul), not to speak 
of the Apostolic Church in general/' 1 The same 

1 "Kingdom of God," page 125. 

A View of the Kingdom. 25 

author, in his exposition of the parables of our 
Lord, 1 has a lengthy discourse on the parable. 
He asserts his belief in its genuineness and orig- 
inality, that is, that it is an original logion of 
Jesus and not a modification of another para- 
ble as given by Matthew or Luke. He also 
cites Volkmar, Holtzman, Neander, and Pflei- 
derer to the same effect. 

In his exposition of the parable Professor 
Bruce in some measure recognizes what, as I 
conceive, is the central meaning of the passage, 
but he unfortunately seizes upon a secondary 
point and makes it primary. He says: "It is 
meant to teach a doctrine of passivity not merely 
with reference to Christ, the first Sower of the 
word, but also with reference to those whose 
minds are the soil into which the truth is cast." 
He further says: "Few of our Lord's parables 
have been more unsatisfactorily expounded, as 
there are few in which a right exposition is more 
to be desired for the good of believers. It may 

■^'Parabolic Teaching of Christ." 

26 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

seem presumptuous to say this, by implication cen- 
suring our brethren and commending ourselves. 
But a man's capacity to expound particular por- 
tions of Scripture depends largely on the peculiar- 
ities of his religious experience; for here, as in 
other spheres, it holds true that we find what 
we bring. Suppose, e. g., that the experience of 
a particular Christian has made him intimately 
acquainted with the momentous business of wait- 
ing on God for good earnestly desired and long 
withheld. The natural result will be an open 
eye for all Scripture texts, and they are many, 
which speak of that exercise, and a ready insight 
into their meaning. The case supposed is the 
writer's own, and therefore the parable now to 
be studied has been to him for many years a 
favorite subject of thought and fruitful source 
of comfort, viewed as a repetition in parabolic 
form of the Psalmist's counsel: 'Wait, I say, on 
the Lord.' 

"In this light we have ever regarded this 
parable. That the progress of growth in the 
divine kingdom, in all spheres, is such as to 

A View of the Kingdom. 27 

call for waiting, being gradual and slow, and 
fixed down to law, seems to us its scope and 

I am extremely embarrassed at having to treat 
the doctrine of Professor Bruce as he does that 
of his "brethren," because whatever reason there 
was for his embarrassment in relation to them, 
there is still greater for mine in relation to him. 
Nevertheless, I feel constrained to say that his 
maxim, that in the interpretation of the Scrip- 
tures "we find what we bring," is a very dan- 
gerous one. It seems to encourage those prej- 
udices of personal experience from which it is 
oftentimes necessary for us to become freed 
wholly in order to the discovery of the truth. 
I would also add to this category one other 
thing which is very likely to influence one's in- 
terpretations of Scripture, and that is the prin- 
cipal dogmas of the school of theology in which 
one has been brought up. Professor Bruce ad- 
mits that the doctrine of passivity which he de- 
rives as the chief notion of the parable is espe- 
cially in line with his experience in waiting. But 

28 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

does not all this doctrine of waiting for "the 
Lord's own good time" in matters pertaining to 
personal religious experience also contain a 
trace of that doctrine of divine sovereignty 
which leaves out the attitude and agency of 
man ? 

Professor Bruce more than once admits that 
the primary purpose of this parable is to illus- 
trate the growth of the kingdom when taken 
collectively, and yet his chief use of it, both in 
his "Kingdom of God" and the "Parabolic 
Teaching of Christ," is to illustrate the grada- 
tion and even slowness of this growth of the 
kingdom in the individual heart. I seriously 
question whether such a thought was in the mind 
of the Saviour when he uttered the parable. 
Indeed, it bears many marks of the absence of 
that line of thought. 

Those who give the passage an individual in- 
terpretation, and find gradation and slowness of 
growth the chief point to be taught, fall into 
trouble about the husbandman. Here, as else- 
where, idleness breeds mischief; and the idleness 

A View of the Kingdom. 29 

of the husbandman in this parable has bred no 
little trouble for the commentators who hold 
that view. At least one of them has gone so 
far as to find employment for him in the para- 
ble of the sower, in such work as clearing out 
the thorns and other things which choke the 
word and make it unfruitful. There is in real- 
ity no need of any such difficulty. 

Gradation in the growth of the kingdom is 
not the main point, although it is uniformly true 
and of sufficient importance to be called to our 
attention. So also the husbandman after he has 
sown the seed becomes a mere incident and is 
set aside as such, for the reason that he cannot 
understand nor push forward the great process 
about which the parable is conversant, that is, 
the action of that vital force in nature which 
makes for fruitfulness. He does not know how 
the seed grows, and he cannot help it to grow; 
he is, therefore, put aside till the time of the 
harvest when he is again brought in for the pur- 
pose of perfecting the symmetry of the figure. 

Dr. Meyer says : "The teaching of the parable 

3o The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

is: Just as a man, after performing the sowing, 
leaves the germination and growth, etc., without 
further intervention, to the earth's own power, 
but at the time of ripening reaps the harvest, 
so the Messiah leaves the ethical results and the 
new developments of life, which his word is 
fitted to produce in the minds of men, to the 
moral self-activity of the human heart, through 
which these results are worked out in accordance 
with their destination, but will, when the time 
for the establishment of his kingdom comes, 
cause the dikaious to be gathered into it." 1 

In holding that the "moral self-activity of the 
human heart" is the main truth of the passage, 
Meyer is clearly in advance of Professor Bruce; 
but he himself seems to be laboring under some 
confusion of thought, for he further says: "So 
the Messiah . . . will, when the time for the 
establishment of his kingdom comes, cause the 
dikaious (the just) to be gathered into it." This 
seems as if the kingdom he has in mind as the 

1 "Gospel of Mark," page 57. 

A View of the Kingdom. 31 

kingdom of the parable were the Messianic king- 
dom soon to be formally set up. But he further 
says that the just shall be gathered into it by the 
angels, and refers to Matt. xxiv. 31 and xiii. 39, 
both of which passages refer to a state of things 
which shall occur only at the winding up of the 
earthly kingdom and the transportation of the 
subjects into the heavenly kingdom. The king- 
dom of the parable is indeed not to be taken 
for either the one of these or the other. The 
kingdom here referred to began with the work 
of Christ and the planting of his Church, and it 
will end in the final transportation of the fruits 
of it into a heavenly kingdom, but the very 
phase of it called forth in this parable is the 
growing period embraced between these two 
great events. 

Archbishop Trench 1 devotes almost the whole 
of the space given to this parable to an attempted 
explanation of difficulties which need not, I 
think, have any existence if the parable were in- 

1,4 The Parables of Our Lord." 

32 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

terpreted in accord with its true meaning. The 
difficulties with which he deals spring very large- 
ly out of the interpretations made in regard to 
the husbandman, whereas, as I have already said, 
the husbandman, after he has performed his only 
essential part, namely, the sowing of the seed, 
becomes a mere incident, and is not, therefore, 
to be dealt with as a primary element in the 
parable. This view does not convert the hus- 
bandman into mere "drapery." He has a vital 
place in relation to the great truth which is 
taught; that place is that of the sow T er — not of 
the reaper, this latter function being incidental. 

The Archbishop says: "It may excite surprise 
that instead of the words last quoted, 'the earth 
bringeth forth fruit of herself,' we do not rather 
read, 'the seed groweth and springeth up of it- 
self,' for that, strictly speaking, is the point 
which the Lord is now urging; and if the earth 
signifies here, as it must, the heart of man, it is 
not in it, but in the word which it receives, that 
the living power resides." With due deference 
to the learned author, I beg to note that "strictly 

A View of the Kingdom. 33 

speaking" this is not the point which the Lord 
is now urging. The Archbishop must have 
known on reflection that the seed does not have 
the power to grow of itself. Germination is the 
utmost of its function, and that only by virtue of 
a little refined earth which has been packed away 
in the cotyledon for that purpose. The seed 
may under certain conditions germinate without 
contact with the soil; but whether in that situa- 
tion or in the soil, the plant will immediately 
begin to die unless kept alive by that which the 
earth alone supplies. It seems to me, therefore, 
that this turn of the Archbishop's, instead of re- 
vealing his usual discernment, is quite superficial 
and wide of the mark. Jesus had just finished 
saying that the seed "springeth and groweth up." 
How easy it would have been to say, the seed 
springeth and groweth up of itself — automate. 
But having assigned to the seed its well-known 
quality of being able to grow under proper con- 
ditions — as a stone is not — he proceeded to give 
in another statement an entirely distinct notion, 
one which calls attention away from the seed to 

34 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

a quality or power which belongs to the earth 

The chief contribution which Trench makes 
on this place is the opinion expressed emphat- 
ically, though parenthetically, that all this ought 
to be applied to the growth and progress of the 
universal Church, and not to that of any single 
soul alone. His testimony at this point is valu- 
able, and comes into harmony with the intima- 
tion of Professor Bruce to the same effect which 
has already been cited. 

I think the parable wholly without difficulties 
if we apply it to the kingdom taken collectively, 
and discern the one great and peculiar point 
which it teaches. I am not unmindful that in 
any parable of the kingdom thus considered there 
must be much that applies incidentally to the 
kingdom in the individual heart. Nevertheless, 
it must be granted that in dealing with so vast 
and complex a community as the kingdom of 
God among men there must be some elements 
which are not thus applicable. It would be easy 
to show that most of the difficulties which com- 

A View of the Kingdom. 35 

mentators have found have sprung out of a fail- 
ure to give the parable that large community 
scope which it was intended to have. It is easy 
to see that in the building of even a limited 
earthly kingdom, while it is composed of in- 
dividuals, and has its character from them in a 
large measure, there are yet many things which 
cannot be dealt with on the basis of the individ- 
ual. Loyalty and patriotism are great and nec- 
essary qualities in the citizen, but a personal 
supervision of these qualities in the citizen can- 
not make a kingdom. The realm of statesman- 
ship, while it must assume these important qual- 
ities lies, in reality, beyond them. 

If the words, "the kingdom of God/' be taken 
to mean the kingdom within the individual heart, 
then difficulties, as we have seen, arise which 
are immovable, especially the one in regard to 
the husbandman. If, on the other hand, we ap- 
ply it to the mere beginning of the kingdom in 
the earth, that is, the coming of the new or Chris- 
tian order as opposed to the old, we are met with 
two serious difficulties in particular, namely, the 

36 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

gradualness of the growth and the nature and 
time of the harvest. But if we understand the 
kingdom of God to mean the reign of God 
among men, fully inaugurated in the teaching 
and ministry of Christ, and continuing through 
the whole process of saving the race, the diffi- 
culties begin to lessen, and with a proper adjust- 
ment of the secondary phases of the parable to 
its main truth, they vanish altogether. 

The great points of the parable are four in 
number : 

1. The agency of sowing: a man, representing 
the Lord himself as Master of the kingdom using 
all available earthly agencies in the planting and 
cultivation of the true seed. The prophets and 
apostles, pastors, parents, teachers, churches, na- 
tions, civilizations, are a procession of agencies 
which he uses as his instruments for this end. 

2. The thing sown: the seed, or the truth of 
the kingdom. This, of course, includes prima- 
rily the teachings of Jesus touching the relations 
of man to God, and a thousand corollaries touch- 
ing man's relations with his fellow-man. But 

A View of the Kingdom. 37 

beyond this it must doubtless include all forms 
of divine truth within the reach of the race 
whereby man may grow in his knowledge of 
God and in acceptable service to him. It will 
be a happy and broad day when men learn that 
the laws of psychology and of commerce, when 
correctly discerned, are as truly divine as the 
laws of gravitation and the Ten Command- 
ments, and that rightly used all God's truth is 
adapted to the enlargement of the individual be- 
liever and to the growth of the kingdom of 
heaven among men. 

3. The kingdom field, or the sphere of this 
sowing. Humanity itself, the race of mankind, 
is the ground in the parable. There is no diffi- 
culty in the fact that man, the sower of the seed, 
is also the soil that receives the seed. It is here 
as in the parable of the sower. The two func- 
tions are so distinct, although they may actually 
exist in the same person (for a man may even 
sow the seed in himself), that there is no con- 
fusion. But man, that is, the human mind, 
heart, life, as the ground which receives the 

38 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

seed, has this said of it: "for the earth bringeth 
forth fruit of herself." In this statement the 
term used to express the notion of spontaneity 
is automate. It is used in only one other place 
in the New Testament. When the angel came 
and delivered Peter out of prison and they 
reached the iron gate of the city, it is said that it 
opened to them "of his own accord," 1 automate. 
As no one would ascribe a real automatism or 
self-activity to the gate, so no intelligent religion- 
ist or truly scientific mind would locate the pow- 
er of productiveness in the earth itself. This is 
a mere putting of a secondary cause for a pri- 
mary. It means that beyond the husbandman 
and back of the seed there is a power which, 
acting through the earth upon the seed, makes 
for fruitfulness in the kingdom of vegetable 

4. The harvest. This comes about under a 
law divinely announced, namely, that every seed 
shall bring forth fruit after its kind. This gen- 

1 Acts xii. 10. 

A View of the Kingdom. 39 

eral law of growth, operating from the period 
of germination to that of the matured grain, is 
one of the most suggestive features of the par- 
able. It furnishes not only a field of hopeful- 
ness, but goes so far as to show that the certainty 
of a perfected kingdom is fixed in unchangeable 
law. It leaves the determination of the charac- 
ter of the crop to him who sows the seed. 

The harvest here referred to is not the great 
catastrophe mentioned in the parable of the 
tares, 1 nor, indeed, is it any catastrophe at all. It 
is the normal order in agricultural life. The 
parable deals with functions: man sows and man 
reaps — not the same individual, but the same 
agency; while it is God who gives the increase. 
In a variety of crops the sowing of one and the 
harvesting of another often come very close to- 
gether. So it is in the community life of the 
kingdom ; the seed-sowing and the harvesting 
are continually recurring, and hence the func- 
tions in man, that of the sower and that of the 

1 Matt. xiii. 30 

4° The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

reaper, are so constantly active as to give no 
room for idleness. 

Moreover, it must be noted that in the com- 
munity life of the kingdom of God, just as in 
other communities, there are sowings and reap- 
ings which pass beyond the individual sphere, 
and while including individuals, of course, are 
community interests. Doctrines are sown, and 
states of society, institutions, and economic pol- 
icies are reaped. Abraham sowed faith and obe- 
dience, and the harvest was the chosen people, 
containing the Jewish Church. Moses sowed 
the law, and his successors found the harvest in 
the greatest commonwealth of the olden times. 
Jonadab, the son of Rechab, sowed the seeds of 
total abstinence, and reaped generations of sober 
men. Jesus and his disciples sowed the seeds 
of love and peace, and families, communities, 
and nations have reaped the harvest and rejoiced 
in it. And thus it is that man, the individual, 
works and dies; but man, the race, abides and 
the kingdom grows. 

The generalized effect of the main truth of the 

A View of the Kingdom. 41 

parable, that "the earth bringeth forth fruit of 
herself," is annually witnessed throughout the 
globe. With the spring there come the bursting 
of the innumerable buds of shrubs and trees and 
the springing up of vast fields of grain ; with the 
summer, the fuller growths; and with the au- 
tumn, the richness of the harvest. A life force, 
immeasurable in its vastness, brings this growth 
about by gradations so fine as to be impercepti- 
ble; and only stages far apart, "the blade, the 
ear, and the full corn in the ear," measure to the 
limited eye of man the operation of this ceaseless 
energy of nature. Just as this evolution and 
procession of life out of the inorganic is due to 
the tireless push of an infinite power which is 
back of the earth, so the kingdom of God among 
men has its warrant in the divine life forces which 
move through man upon man for the beautifica- 
tion and perfection of his nature. 

It thus becomes entirely clear, at least to the 
writer, that the great thought in the parable 
deals with the growth power in the vegetable 
world, and thus gives a more definite conception 

42 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

of the forces at work in the kingdom of right- 

Some rather startling illustrations of the vast- 
ness of this force are easily at hand, and may 
fitly close our survey of the parable under con- 

It will be recalled that in the parable of the 
sower the good soil is represented as bringing 
forth in three orders, thirty, sixty, and a hun- 
dred fold. Instead of taking the wild growths 
of field and forest, the magnitude of which baf- 
fles all computation, I will call attention to only 
two of the rates of increase mentioned in the 
parable, the smallest and the largest. It chances 
that the thirty-fold rate of increase corresponds 
very closely with the increase of wheat, and the 
hundred-fold rate to the increase of Indian corn, 
the two great breadstuffs of the world. It is, 
indeed, not uncommon for one bushel of wheat 
to produce thirty bushels, and oftentimes much 
more, while a hundred bushels of corn from one 
bushel is really a very light yield. 

Let us take first the wheat. I shall not en- 

A View of the Kingdom. 43 

cumber the page with the enormous figures, but 
simply give the results. 

Given one bushel of wheat to be sown, and all 
the product to be sown annually for twenty 
years. What will the harvest be at the end of 
the twentieth year ? The answer is the last term 
of a geometrical series, the ratio of which is 
thirty, and the number of terms twenty. To 
the mind of even a slightly experienced math- 
ematician these figures begin at once to suggest 
the need for a number of very large granaries 
in which to stow the wheat. For this purpose 
conceive the earth to be a hollow sphere eight 
thousand miles in diameter. Such a receptacle 
would contain more than thirty-one sextillions 
of bushels. Despite the vastness of these fig- 
ures, it would require 10,995,989 such worlds 
to hold the crop; and the relatively insignificant 
fraction left over would be enough at the present 
rate of the world's annual product to feed the 
race for millions of years. 

If we take the corn and apply the same data, 
except to give it its natural rate of increase, 

44 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

that is, one hundred-fold, and for only fifteen 
years instead of twenty, we shall find need for 
31,536,188 such cribs as the earth would make; 
and the inconsiderable fraction left over, though 
falling far short of enough to fill another world 
crib, would be sufficient to supply the race with 
as much corn as it now consumes for many bil- 
lions of years. 

As little as is thought of it, it thus appears 
that the power of growth in nature so far ex- 
ceeds all other powers known to man, such as 
wind power, water power, steam and electricity, 
that the difference baffles the mind. So great, 
indeed, is this silent but immeasurable power 
that if death and decomposition had not been pro- 
vided for in the scheme of life, that scheme would 
soon have broken down by the weight of its own 

This somewhat continued survey of the parable 
of the growth power has been taken for the rea- 
son that it is only when we have discovered the 
true meaning of the analogue that we are able to 
gain a conception of the underlying principle by 

A View of the Kingdom. 45 

which the kingdom of God is to come among 
men in its fullness. It is only then also that the 
mind is in an attitude rightly to consider those 
methods of labor by which the Church can best 
make its contribution to this holy conspiracy. 

In the next chapter the object shall be to call 
attention to those powers of growth in the Chris- 
tian faith which, when rightly conditioned, are 
destined to bring the race under the benign do- 
minion of Jesus Christ. 





A careful study of Christianity as a body of 
doctrine, and more than all as a life, reveals the 
fact that it contains elements of vitality and 
growth wholly unknown to any other system of 
religion or thought. It contains within itself 
such forces of reproduction and expansion as 
render its multiple power, or rate of progress, so 
vastly superior to that of any other faith as to 
give assurance of its final triumph, with only the 
single condition that its holders shall observe in 
themselves and their offspring the laws of its 
normal growth. 

In the development of Christianity as a race- 
wide power there are two lines or spheres of 
growth, which while vitally related are yet dis- 
tinct enough to require a somewhat separated 
treatment. One of these may be called the line 
4 (49) 

50 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

of direct growth; and the other, that of lateral 
growth. The first of these has to do with the 
growth of Christianity directly through the fam- 
ily stock, and may be designated as propagation. 
The second has to do with growth which is by 
accretion and by conquest in the wider sense, 
and comes by the permeating influence of Chris- 
tian thought and life, and by the power of the 
Holy Spirit working through men in the use es- 
pecially of the word of God upon the non-Chris- 
tian classes. This order of growth is revealed 
in its largest form in the work of missions and 
in revivals, and is properly called propagandism. 
More than fifty years ago Horace Bushnell 
wrote on the religious culture of the young, and 
the consequent spread of the kingdom of God, 
with such penetration and grasp that but few 
writers since have been able to traverse the same 
field without walking somewhat in his paths. 
Among other discourses 1 he has a most sug- 
gestive one on the outpopulating power of the 

lu Christian Nurture." 

Outgrowing Power of Christianity. 51 

Christian stock. This principle of development 
is there set forth with such clearness of state- 
ment and with such wealth of illustration that I 
cannot do better than to give here the central 
section of that discourse. He says: 

"Christianity then has a power, as we discover, 
to prepare a godly seed. It not only takes hold 
of the world by its converting efficacy, but it has 
a silent force that is much stronger and more 
reliable ; it moves by a kind of destiny, in causes 
back of all the eccentric and casual operations of 
mere individual choice, preparing, by a gradual 
growing in of grace, to become the great popu- 
lating motherhood of the world. In this convic- 
tion we shall be strengthened — 

"By the well-known fact, that the populating 
power of any race, or stock, is increased accord- 
ing to the degree of personal and religious char- 
acter to which it has attained. Good principles 
and habits, intellectual culture, domestic virtue, 
industry, order, law faith, — all these go imme- 
diately to enhance the rate and capacity of popu- 
lation. They make a race powerful, not in the 

fjtate library* 

52 The Kingdom in the Cradl 

mere military sense, but in one that, by century- 
long reaches of populating force, lives down 
silently every mere martial competitor. Any 
people that is physiologically advanced in cul- 
ture, though it be only in a degree, beyond an- 
other which is mingled with it on strictly equal 
terms, is sure to live down and finally live out 
its inferior. Nothing can save the inferior race 
but a ready and pliant assimilation. 

"The promise to Abraham depended, doubt- 
less, on this fact for its fulfillment. God was to 
make his family fruitful, above others, by im- 
parting himself to it, and so infusing a higher 
tone of personal life. Hence also the grand 
religious fact that this race unfolded a populat- 
ing power so remarkable. Going down into 
Egypt, as a starving family, it begins to be evi- 
dent in about four hundred years that they are 
over-populating the great kingdom of Egypt it- 
self. 'The children of Israel were fruitful and 
increased abundantly, and multiplied and waxed 
exceeding mighty, and the land was filled with 
them.' Till finally the jealousy of the throne 

Outgrowing Power of Christianity. 53 

was awakened, and the king began to say, 'Be- 
hold the people of the children of Israel are 
more and mightier than we F 

"Afterwards little Palestine itself was like a 
swarm of bees ; building great cities, raising 
great armies, and displaying all the tokens, age 
upon age, of a great and populous empire. So 
great was the fruitfulness of the stock, com- 
pared with other nations of the time, owing to 
the higher personality unfolded in them, by their 
only partial and very crude training, in a mono- 
theistic religion. 

"And again, at a still later time, when the na- 
tion itself is dismembered, and thousands of the 
people are driven off into captivity, we find that 
when the great king of Persia had given out an 
edict of extermination against them, and would 
like to recall it but cannot, because of the absurd 
maxim that what the king has decreed must not 
be changed, he has only to publish another de- 
cree, that they shall have it as their right to 
stand for their lives, and that is enough to in- 
sure their complete immunity. 'They gathered 

54 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

themselves together in their cities, and through- 
out all the provinces, and no man could with- 
stand them, for the fear of them fell upon all 
people/ In which we may see how this captive 
race had multiplied and spread themselves, in 
this incredibly short time, through all the great 
kingdom of the Medo-Persian kings. 

"Or we may take a more modern illustration, 
drawn from the comparative history of the Chris- 
tian and Mohammedan races. The Christian 
development begins at an older date, and the 
Mohammedan at a later. One is a propagation 
by moral and religious influences, at least in part ; 
the other a propagation by military force. Both 
have religious ideas and aims, but the main dis- 
tinction is that one is taken hold of by religion 
as being a contribution to the free personal na- 
ture of souls ; and the other is taken hold of by a 
religion whose grip is the strong grip of fate. 
For a time, this latter spread like a fire in the 
forest, propagated by the terrible sword of pre- 
destination, and it even seemed about to over- 
ride the world. But it by and by began to ap- 

Outgrowing Pozver of Christianity. 55 

pear that one religion was creating and the other 
uncreating manhood; one toning up a great and 
powerful character, and the other toning down, 
steeping in lethargy, the races it began to in- 
spire; till finally we can now see as distinctly as 
possible that one is pouring on great tides of 
population, creating a great civilization, and 
great and powerful nations; the other, falling 
away into a feeble, half-depopulated, always de- 
caying state, that augurs final extinction at no 
distant period. Now the fact is that these two 
great religions of the world had each, in itself, 
its own law of population from the beginning, 
and it was absolutely certain, whether it could be 
seen or not, that Christianity would finally live 
down Mohammedanism, and completely expur- 
gate the world of it. The campaigning centuries 
of European chivalry, pressing it with crusade 
after crusade, could not bring it under; but the 
majestic populating force of Christian faith and 
nurture can even push it out of the world, as in 
the silence of a dew-fall. 

"What a lesson also could be derived, in the 

56 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

same manner, from a comparison of the popu- 
lating forces of the Puritan stock in this country, 
and of the inferior, superstitious, half-Christian 
stock and nurture of the South American states. 
And the reason of the difference is that Chris- 
tianity, having a larger, fuller, more new-creat- 
ing force in one, gives it a populating force as 
much superior. 

"How this advantage accrues, and is, at some 
future time, to be more impressively revealed 
than now, it is not difficult to see. Let the chil- 
dren of Christian parents grow up, as partakers 
in their grace, which is the true Christian idea, 
and the law of family increase they are in is, by 
the supposition, so far brought into the Church, 
and made operative there. And then comes in 
also the additional fact that there are causes and 
conditions of increase now operative in the 
Church which exist nowhere else. 

"Here, for example, there will be a stronger 
tide of health than elsewhere. In the world 
without, multitudes are perishing continually by 
vice and extravagance, and, when they do not 

Outgrowing Power of Christianity. 57 

perish themselves, they are always entailing the 
effects of their profligacy on the half-endowed 
constitution of their children. Meantime, in the 
truly Christian life, there is a good keeping of 
temperance, a steady sway of the passions, a 
robust equability and courage, and the whole 
domain of the soul is kept more closely to God's 
order; which again is the way of health, and 
implies a higher law of increase. 

"Wealth, again, will be unfolded more rapidly 
under the condition of Christian living than 
elsewhere; and wealth enough to yield a gen- 
erous supply of the common wants of life is an- 
other cause that favors population. True piety 
is itself a principle of industry and application to 
business. It subordinates the love of show and 
all the tendencies to extravagance. It rules 
those licentious passions that war with order and 
economy. It generates a faithful character, 
which is the basis of credit, as credit, of pros- 
perity. Hence it is that upon the rocky, stub- 
born soil, under the harsh and frowning skies of 
our New England, we behold so much of high 

58 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

prosperity, so much of physical well-being and 
ornament. And the wealth created is diffused 
about as evenly as piety. A true Christian so- 
ciety has mines opened, thus, in its own habits 
and principles. And the wealth accruing is pow- 
er in every direction, power in production, enter- 
prise, education, colonization, influence, and con- 
sequent popular increase. 

"There will also be more talent unfolded in a 
Christian people, and talent also takes the helm 
of causes everywhere. Christian piety is itself 
a kind of holy development, enlarging every way 
the soul's dimensions. It will also be found 
that Christian families abound with influences 
especially favorable to the awakening of the in- 
tellectual principle in childhood. Religion itself 
is thoughtful. It carries the child's mind over 
directly to unknown worlds, fills the understand- 
ing with the sublimest questions, and sends the 
imagination abroad to occupy itself where angels' 
wings would tire. The child of a Christian fam- 
ily is thus unsensed, at the earliest moment, and 
put into mental action; this, too, under the 

Outgrowing Power of Christianity. eg 

healthy and genial influence of Christian prin- 
ciple. Every believing soul, too, is exalted and 
empowered by union to God. His judgment is 
clarified, his reason put in harmony with truth, 
his emotions swelled in volume, his imagination 
fired by the object of his faith. The Church, in 
short, is God's university, and it lies in her 
foundation as a school of spiritual life, to ener- 
gize all capacity, and make her sons a talented 
and powerful race. 

"Here, too, are the great truths, and all the 
grandest, most fruitful ideas of existence. Here 
will spring up science, discovery, invention. The 
great books will be born here, and the highest, 
noblest, most quickening character will here 
be fashioned. Popular liberties and the rights 
of persons will here be asserted. Commerce will 
go forth hence, to act the preluding of the Chris- 
tian love, in the universal fellowship of trade. 

"And so we see, by this rapid glance along the 
inventories of Christian society, that all manner 
of causes are included in it, that will go to fine 
the organization, raise the robustness, swell the 

6o The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

volume, multiply the means, magnify the power 
of the Christian body. It stands among the oth- 
er bodies and religions just as any advanced race, 
the Saxon for example, stands among the feebler, 
wilder races, like the Aborigines of our conti- 
nent ; having so much power of every kind that it 
puts them in shadow, weakens them, lives them 
down, rolling its over-populating tides across 
them, and sweeping them away, as by a kind of 
doom. Just so there is, in the Christian Church, 
a grand law of increase by which it is rolling out 
and spreading over the world. Whether the 
feebler and more abject races are going to be 
regenerated and raised up, is already very much 
of a question. What if it should be God's plan 
to people the world with better and finer mate- 
rial ? Certain it is, whatever expectations we may 
indulge, that there is a tremendous overbearing 
surge of power in the Christian nations, which, 
if the others are not speedily raised to some vast- 
ly higher capacity, will inevitably submerge and 
bury them forever. These great populations of 
Christendom — what are they doing, but throwing 

Outgrowing Pozver of Christianity. 61 

out their colonies on every side, and populating 
themselves, if I may so speak, into the possession 
of all countries and climes ? By this doom of in- 
crease, the stone that was cut out without hands 
shows itself to be a very peculiar stone, viz., a 
growing stone, that is fast becoming a great 
mountain, and preparing, as the vision shows, to 
fill the whole earth." 

In addition to this direct growth of Christian- 
ity by propagation from within, there is, as has 
already been said, what may be termed a lateral 
growth which would of itself give the predom- 
inance to Christianity in conflict with all other 
religions, provided only that the direct propaga- 
tion should be so far kept up as to prevent any 
heavy percentage of loss from within. 

By lateral growth is meant that pervasive influ- 
ence which proceeds from Christianity and affects 
the thought and policies of those who are not vi- 
tally Christian. The result of these influences is 
to prepare the way for that system of doctrine 
from which they proceed, and thus to open the 
way, by a kind of general favor, for the promulga- 

62 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

tion of the faith among the non-Christian classes 
and peoples. The home, for example, based on 
monogamic marriage, is a distinct product of 
Christianity. But its influences are so visibly gra- 
cious and powerful that even the non-Christian 
classes in Christendom are devoted to its main- 
tenance; and these, while not seeking directly to 
make their children Christians, are entirely will- 
ing for them to enter the Sunday schools and be 
properly taught. This furnishes to a true and ag- 
gressive Christianity one of its largest opportuni- 
ties, and it is probable that by an actual count 
millions of the present Sunday-school enrollment 
are of this class. These young people being thus 
reared in part by the Church, and being converted 
to Christianity, soon become the makers of Chris- 
tian homes, and thus true centers of religious 
propagation. Take again the doctrine of temper- 
ance, which in its modern significance is a truly 
Christian doctrine. There was a time when in 
America the almost sole propagandists of this 
doctrine were the Church and a few related tem- 
perance societies. But the doctrine of temper- 

Outgrowing Pozvcr of Christianity. 63 

ance was faithfully preached, and the practical 
value of the virtue so exploited that the worldly- 
wise as well as the religious saw it ; and now the 
strongest temperance societies in numbers and in 
their power practically to enforce the habit are 
apart from the Church, and are not supposed to 
be in any sense in league with it. Prominent, 
probably preeminent, among these is the vast 
railroad business of modern times. It is the pol- 
icy of these corporations to take boys and young 
men and have them grow up in the business, and 
find their promotions in a graded and well- 
guarded way, fidelity and competency being the 
two ever-present conditions of a large and con- 
tinued success. The business at almost every 
point calls for strong bodies, steady nerves, and 
clear heads. Strong drink is known to be the 
deadliest enemy to these conditions, and drunk- 
enness is, therefore, fatal to the aspirations of 
railroad men. The same thing is true in nearly 
all the leading lines of commerce. It would, in- 
deed, be difficult to measure the influence thus 
proceeding from business organizations in behalf 

64 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

of a sober and strong manhood. So also it is 
true in a very large measure of honesty, reci- 
procity, and altruism, which together establish 
business on surer foundations, broaden its scope, 
and in various ways mitigate human condi- 
tions in a way wholly favorable to the fuller ac- 
ceptance of that Christianity from which these 
principles spring. 

It must also be noted that while Christianity 
in effecting spiritual salvation always begins at 
the bottom, with the individual, working upward 
into the circle, the community, the nation, it also 
has a way of beginning at the top and working 
downward. It has been, for example, but a few 
years since the Japanese began to study the 
sources of prosperity and power among the 
Christian nations of the West. They rightly dis- 
cerned that it lay in our religion and in the 
educational system based upon it. They incor- 
porated directly into their national life what they 
deemed the best, and within a few years experi- 
enced a national regeneration in a civic, educa- 
tional, and industrial way. Within a quarter of 

Outgrowing Pozvcr of Christianity. 65 

a century from the beginning of that study a 
great war broke out between Japan and Russia. 
In the conduct of this war the Japanese have ex- 
hibited a magnanimity, a considerateness, a true 
charity, in dealing not only with their own sol- 
diers, but also those of the enemy — especially the 
sick, the wounded, the captured — which can only 
be accounted for by the fact that they have ac- 
cepted the Christian view of honor and of duty in 
these relations. That this national spirit and the 
record of it in the new history of Japan shall ex- 
ert a powerful influence upon the individual lives 
of the people, is beyond question. When in con- 
nection with this national order we regard the 
fact that the Japanese got their first impressions 
of Christianity from the missionaries of the Cross, 
men and women whose self-abnegation, love, and 
devotion to the welfare of an alien people led 
them to all manner of self-sacrifice, and that 
through their agency thousands were genuinely 
converted to the faith and life of Christ, we can- 
not doubt that the two forces working from be- 
neath and above shall under the guidance and 

66 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

power of the Holy Spirit soon transform the 
Japanese into a Christian people of the first rank. 
Take again the doctrine of peace and its influ- 
ence upon character and relations. Christianity 
requires peace as a condition of character in the 
individual and his relations; it extends thence to 
communities, nations, the world. Hence the doc- 
trine of a universal peace of which all Christian 
powers are the guardians and in which all human 
interests, even of a material kind, are involved. 
This doctrine is wholly a product of the Chris- 
tian system, despite the many and outrageous vio- 
lations of it in the past by those who have called 
themselves Christians. It was not until quite re- 
cently that the thought of it had so far perme- 
ated the race as to articulate itself in a proposal 
for a peace congress of all Christian nations. 
While the work of that conference has not yet 
done much in a practical way beyond mitigating 
in some measure the atrocities of war, it has sent 
the notion abroad and fixed the thought of the 
race upon the possibility of a universal and en- 
during peace which shall be in harmony with the 

Outgrowing Pozver of Christianity. 67 

honor and commercial welfare of all nations 
whether great or small. It is noteworthy in this 
connection that while within the last decade two 
of the most powerful of the Christian nations, 
England and Russia, have engaged in war with 
weaker nations, the great citizenship of those na- 
tions, which constitutes the thinking and creating 
force of each, has been strongly opposed to these 
wars. The doctrine of peace is destined finally 
to prevail, and thus Christianity will have 
wrought out in a lateral or indirect way another 
of the principal conditions for the universal ac- 
ceptance of the reign of Christ in the earth. 

There is another feature in connection with the 
growth power of Christianity which deserves es- 
pecial mention, and that is its spirit of propa- 
gandism. It is the only faith of the world that 
bears the truly winged seed, divinely furnished, 
as it were, for riding the winds that blow over all 
seas and all lands. This condition comes from 
the fact that its central impulse is love, the great 
giving affection, which can find its supreme sat- 
isfaction only in the impartation of its best to the 

68 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

neediest. It is the only faith which becomes en- 
riched by constant drains upon the resources of 
its adherents, and attains to fullness by lavish out- 
pourings. Hence it is that every day witnesses 
the establishment of new seed points in circles, 
communities, and nations not hitherto reached. 
Each of them in turn becomes a new center of 
propagation, and thus the kingdom grows nor- 
mally in all lands and communities under laws 
that are as fixed and inevitable in their operation 
as are those which insure annually the bread that 
sustains the life of the race. 

The last and one of the most important forces 
of lateral growth is what is known as the revival 
power of Protestant Christianity. While in pro- 
ductiveness it is by no means equal to the more 
normal and quieter operations of the law of 
growth as manifested in the development of the 
kingdom from within, it is still a factor of tre- 
mendous value. Its relation to the normal order 
is very much as that which an electric storm in 
nature sustains to the world of atmospheres and 
of electricity. A genuine revival of religion is, 

Outgrozving Power of Christianity. 69 

as a mere fact, the sublimest manifestation of 
power known among men. It is the storm phasis 
of the moral world. The aspects, functions, and 
results are very similar to those of the natural 
storm. The real origins are hidden; the times 
cannot be foreseen ; the noises and the silences are 
so related as to be alike impressive. The invis- 
ible energies are working toward healthy condi- 
tions by breaking up stagnancy and changing the 
atmospheres, and by the concentrated shafts of 
fire which burn out the mephitic conditions, and 
leave in their path a life-giving tonic which 
reaches the blood through the breath. Such oc- 
casions press all classes of men into a sort of one- 
ness by the presence of a power superior to all, 
and movements become easy and appear natural 
which otherwise would appear as out of order or 
impossible. As it is no discredit to the bravest of 
men to run for coverture from the bolts and blasts 
of the hurricane, so in the revival crisis the last to 
be expected may become even the first to seek 
shelter without the feeling of having done any- 
thing less than the sane and appropriate thing. 

jo The Kingdom- in the Cradle. 

Even those under cover, when they see the storm- 
beaten man reach a place of safety, feel a sense 
of relief which they could not feel but for the fact 
that they also are enveloped in the same atmos- 
phere of storm and stress. There are many men 
who become so morally indurated that they can 
be made to realize their true relations and real 
conditions only by the roar of the thunders and 
the tingle of the electric currents along their 
nerves. But it is also true that in such seasons 
others, not only the less hardened among trans- 
gressors, but even the truly Christian, are corre- 
spondingly touched and aroused. 

Such results are not surprising when we regard 
the fact that the power which moves in every 
true revival is the power of the Holy Spirit, im- 
manent, pervasive, and dynamic; that the instru- 
ment is the word of God made alive and impera- 
tive by the Spirit's touch; and that the channel 
or agency of this power is the Church of Christ, 
illuminated and surcharged for the performance 
of one of its most important ministries. We do 
not wonder, therefore, at the many great and 

Outgrowing Power of Christianity. J\ 

gracious results which spring from revivals of 
religion. Characters which have been wrecked 
by sin are renewed and recast; homes that have 
been desolated become houses of prayer and 
praise ; enmities that have eaten into the life of 
the community are cured; institutions of tempta- 
tion and crime are abolished ; the moral aspect of 
life and its purposes are changed ; the various ele- 
ments of the social order are welded into a closer 
unity for the achievement of all good ends; the 
Church itself gains a higher and wider view of the 
ends for which it exists; its life is deepened, its 
sympathies broadened, and its faith rendered 
stronger by this visible triumph of its divine Head 
over the power of the adversary. 

By this agency millions who had missed the 
better way have been swept as by force into the 
kingdom of God, many of whom have been faith- 
ful and some of them great in the kingdom, who 
by the establishment of Christian households have 
done much to multiply the holy seed. 

It is altogether probable that the greatest re- 
vival period of the Church is not in the past but 

j2 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

in the future, and that it shall come only when the 
membership of the Church shall consist predom- 
inantly of a generation reared from infancy in 
the nurture of the Lord. Then the word of God, 
which is the instrument of the Spirit for such 
ends, will be in the heart, understood in that 
strange, deep way which becomes possible only ' 
by an assimilation in the life of the believer. 
Such a Church will also have a power of witness- 
ing which will be rationally irresistible, and it will 
therefore serve as a truly broad and vital organ- 
ism through which the Spirit may reach the un- 

Nevertheless, as the electric storm, despite its 
sublimity and its life-giving value, cannot be re- 
lied upon as the source of the electricity every- 
where needed in the scheme of life, for the me- 
chanical uses which men make of the mystic 
"fluid," so neither can the revival power of Chris- 
tianity be relied upon as the chief means of popu- 
lating the kingdom of God among men, or of se- 
curing that growth which is ordained of God in 
the sphere of spiritual life. 

Outgrowing Power of Christianity. 73 

Tims it is that the Christian stock, by the con- 
stant growing in of the finer and more robust ele- 
ments of manly character, shall more than equal 
other stocks in the race for supremacy ; and thus 
it is that the continence, temperance, industry, fru- 
gality, the superior intellectual creativeness, and 
above all the right valuation of man at the right 
time for securing his perfection — all which are 
the inevitable outgrowths of the Christian faith — 
shall furnish a percentage of gain over all other 
stocks that gives, with only the time element 
added, mathematical assurance of complete dom- 
ination. And thus it is also that the lateral or in- 
direct growth of Christianity, by its doctrines of 
the home, of social purity, of temperance, of 
peace, and of human as well as divine love, propa- 
gated by other agencies than those of the Church ; 
by its missionary movements and revival influ- 
ences, shall both strengthen the inward growth of 
the stock and prepare other soils for it, until it 
shall fill the whole earth with its presence and 
with the fruits of holiness. 





The positions taken in the chapter on a 
view of the kingdom are that the kingdom of 
God among men is to be universal, that is, that 
it shall penetrate and finally include all other 
kingdoms so as to envelop the race in its blessed 
dominion ; that this result shall come about by a 
process of growth; that man is to sow the seed 
of divine truth and reap a harvest of Christian 
character, issuing in godly civilizations ; all of 
which is accomplished by a divine power working 
in and through men. 

When we see that Jesus has invariably set forth 
the process by which his kingdom shall come un- 
der the figure of growth, we are rationally im- 
pelled into the inquiry as to when this process 
ought to begin in the individual life and how it 
may best be conducted. 


78 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

There have been but two general theories on 
this subject. They have, as we have already 
seen, been fitly designated as the rupture, revolu- 
tion, or transplantation theory, on the one hand; 
and on the other, as the nurture, evolution, or 
growth from the seed theory. The one is the 
theory of adult conversion as a primary or chief 
means of making up the citizenship of the king- 
dom ; and the other, that of training the childhood 
of the race in the knowledge of God and in the 
habits of right living. 

In all such matters there is, of course, but one 
ultimate authority, and that is the thought of 
God. This thought is expressed in his constitu- 
tion of the nature of man and in his word. The 
first branch of this inquiry is reserved for a later 
stage of the discussion. The second may be suffi- 
ciently dealt with in a brief examination of the 

Teachings of Jesus Concerning the Subjects 
of His Kingdom and the Way of 
Entering It. 
It is well to note at the outset that Jesus him- 
self was not an evangelist in the ordinary sense. 

Christ's Doctrine. jy 

The few years of his ministry were spent chiefly 
in teaching the doctrines of his kingdom, and in 
the performance of deeds of mercy destined to 
become the sure foundations of institutions which 
were ever afterwards to accompany that system 
of doctrine. He did, however, give here and 
there a measure of the adult populations with 
which he dealt, out of which we may gather his 
estimate of them as material for a spiritual king- 
dom. A brief survey of this estimate will pre- 
pare us for a fuller understanding of Christ's 
teaching concerning children. 

The parable of the sower is without doubt the 
parable of adult populations. It is given by all 
the synoptists with only minor variations. In it 
Jesus sets forth the insuperable obstacles in deal- 
ing with people who have been established in the 
habits of thought and conduct which belong to a 
worldly or nonspiritual life. Jesus himself, at the 
request of the disciples, expounds the parable, 
and thus puts its application beyond question. 
The passage brings to notice four classes of 

8o The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

The first are those by the wayside who hear 
but do not understand the word. Jesus declares 
that the wicked one comes and takes away the 
seed which is sown in the heart. This calls to 
our attention the fact that there is ever a liability 
to diabolical interference with the truth, espe- 
cially when it is sown in the hearts of those who 
do not love it; and, alas, how large a class that 
is in every land ! 

The second class is composed of those who re- 
ceive the seed into stony places. These hear the 
word and anon with joy receive it, but because 
they have no root in themselves they fall away 
when trials come. How vast is the number of 
those who have intellectual pleasure in the truth 
when publicly and ably administered, and who un- 
der the impulsions of a sentimental mood ally 
themselves with the truth, only to desert its for- 
tunes when they come into circles or conditions 
where the truth is unpopular and something must 
be suffered in its behalf ! 

The third class embraces those represented by 
the thorny ground. These hear, but the cares of 

Christ's Doctrine. 81 

this life, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lust 
of other things choke the word and make it un- 
fruitful. This brings directly to our view the 
unnumbered millions of grown people who are so 
burdened with the cares of life, some of them 
in themselves legitimate and honorable cares, that 
they are unfitted or indisposed to give virtuous 
consideration to the truth which saves. Next to 
them in alignment are those other millions who 
are breathlessly chasing the riches phantom, and 
have neither time nor taste for the concerns of a 
spiritual life. And finally comes that large class 
of people who are under the dominion of divers 
worldy and fleshly desires which they are unwill- 
ing to surrender in order to enter the kingdom, 
a vast horde intoxicated with the varied pleasures 
of the life of sensation. 

The fourth class of hearers are those repre- 
sented by the good ground. These hear the word 
and receive it into good and honest hearts, and it 
brings forth fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundred 
fold. Even in this class the scale of variety is 
very striking. Why not uniformity, all a hun- 

82 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

dred-fold ? I do not care to press the parable 
too far at this or any other point; but, having 
been reared on a farm, I cannot but reflect that 
even in the best soil a mixture of conditions, such 
as some rockiness, some thorns, though falling- 
far short of a thicket, and some fallowness due to 
bad preliminary plowing, seriously affects the 
productiveness of the field. 

I have no disposition to claim, because three of 
the four classes mentioned caused the word to die 
without fruit, that three-fourths of the adult peo- 
ple who hear fail to accept the truth. But he 
would be a bold interpreter indeed who would 
claim this parable as authority for the belief that 
even a majority of the irreligious adults of any 
generation are likely to be so reached by the gos- 
pel as to be saved by it. 

The scribes and Pharisees, the most religious 
class among the Jews, Jesus pronounced hypo- 
crites; and having given illustrations which bore 
up the charge, he ended with a figure of speech 
which for breadth of meaning and condensed en- 
ergy of expression has never been equaled — that 

Christ's Doctrine. 83 

of "the whited sepulcher." These were the same 
people whom John the Baptist a few months ear- 
lier had found occasion to designate as a "genera- 
tion of vipers," terms which Jesus repeatedly ap- 
plied to them. 

When Jesus cleansed ten lepers and only one 
came back from the priests to give thanks for his 
deliverance, Jesus felt the point of their ingrat- 
itude, and said: "Were there not ten cleansed? 
but where are the nine? There are not found 
that returned to give glory to God save this 
stranger" (Samaritan). 

The rich young ruler, who had such personal 
qualities as led Jesus to look upon him with pe- 
culiar regard, heard the hard demands which Je- 
sus laid down, and then turned and went away 

These particular instances are cited, not for 
their numerical value, of course, but because they 
represent states of mind and heart too largely 
common to men in every age under similar con- 

On the shores of Galilee Jesus told one of the 

84 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

largest and most hopeful of the multitudes that 
followed him that they followed him not for even 
his signs, but for the loaves and fishes. The most 
pathetic incident of his life was when he wept 
over the blindness of the people to spiritual 
things, and said: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou 
that killest the prophets, and stonest them which 
are sent unto thee, how often would I have gath- 
ered thy children together, even as a hen gather- 
eth her chickens under her wings, and ye would 
not I" 1 However much of pain came to him from 
this state of things, there was no disappointment 
in the sense of a failure to reap an expected har- 
vest. He knew that a generation confirmed as 
that was in a habit of thought and moral conduct 
would not take upon itself the hard terms which 
his gospel proposes to the proud and self-suffi- 

If to these facts and utterances it be answered 
that with the coming of Pentecost a different or- 
der was inaugurated, it is granted that the gift of 

i Matt, xxiii. 37. 

Christ's Doctrine. 85 

the Spirit did largely increase the number of can- 
versions. But in considering this holy convoca- 
tion and its marvelous outcome, we must not fail 
to follow steadily after the truth as it bears on 
the question which we are studying. Let us note 
that the persons there assembled were in all prob- 
ability the most religious few thousand to be 
found throughout the whole earth ; that there had 
just occurred in that very community the most 
extraordinary series of events in the history of 
men ; that barely sufficient time had elapsed since 
these occurrences for such reflection upon them 
as would naturally lead to the conviction of their 
divine significance, and that the inaugural move- 
ment of the Spirit upon the Church was accom- 
panied by sights and sounds which thrilled every 
observer through and through with the sense of 
the mysterious and awful presence of God. 

The outcome of that most notable of days was 
the conversion of three thousand people. If we 
come from that day to our own, and assume in 
the estimate the existence of such a Pentecost, 
with the same result, three thousand conversions 

86 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

every day, it would require one thousand three 
hundred and seventy years to convert the people 
now living on the earth. It would require forty 
of such revival centers, each turning out three 
thousand converts every day for thirty-three years 
in succession to convert the people of one genera- 
tion. At the end of that period more people would 
be on the earth awaiting their turn than were 
present at the beginning of the movement. In 
view of these facts, it is not to be denied that the 
rupture theory of salvation has a divine warrant 
in its proper place, and that it furnishes the 
ground of hope for many individuals who have 
missed a better estate ; but it is not to be wondered 
at that those who hold it as the chief means of 
saving the race become discouraged as to the gen- 
eral outcome of the Christian scheme and sink 
into a sort of bold but pious pessimism which ex- 
pects this order to be ended soon in a cataclysm 
of divine power and impatience. 

Meanwhile Jesus was busy with another work, 
in which he exemplified what was to be the proc- 
ess by which his kingdom should become estab- 

Christ's Doctrine. 87 

lished on sure foundations. That work was a 
work of training — the training of the twelve. 

No discerning reader of the evangelists can fail 
to see with what unreserve Jesus labored through 
his whole ministry to instruct the twelve in the 
elements of his kingdom. This process was car- 
ried on by the public discourse, by daily talks 
when apart from the multitudes, by miracles, by 
the constant exhibition of all great personal qual- 
ities, and by a ceaseless example of devotion to 
duty. Surely no other twelve men in the history 
of the race ever had such schooling. Nor can it 
be doubted that Jesus in choosing the twelve se- 
lected the best material that the situation afforded. 
And yet, such was the stubbornness of their be- 
liefs and of their unbelief, such was the slowness 
of their hearts to surrender what they contained 
and to receive what Jesus had to impart, that the 
boundless patience of the Teacher was even near 
the close of his career put under a severe strain. 
Of these twelve disciples thus exclusively em- 
ployed and thus divinely guided for three years, 
three suffered a serious defection from him at the 

88 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

end of his ministry, one of which was final and 

What may have come to the kingdom above by 
the popular labors of Jesus and his immediate dis- 
ciples we have no way to find out, but we may 
easily see that to the infinite patience and tact 
with which Jesus trained the twelve the kingdom 
below owes everything. No one can follow the 
Scripture details of this process, especially with 
the illumination which they have received through 
Professor Bruce's great work, "The Training of 
the Twelve," without the conviction that the chief 
difficulty which Jesus had to encounter was that 
he was dealing with the gnarled oak and knotted 
cedar instead of with flexible plants which would 
have yielded themselves readily to his conforming 
touch, and thus transmuted their life forces into 
forms of faultless symmetry and enduring 

The Teaching and Example of Jesus Con- 
cerning Children. 
Jesus was in the highest sense the champion 
of childhood. In this respect he was unlike all 

Christ* s Doctrine. 89 

the other great masters of men. They had under- 
stood but very imperfectly, if at all, the divine 
purpose in the long-continued helplessness of the 
human offspring. Jesus saw in it the chief op- 
portunity for the establishment of a spiritual 
kingdom among men, and while his utterances on 
the subject are not voluminous, they are so truly 
revolutionary that the Christian era may be prop- 
erly called the era of the child. 

Concerning childlikeness, and the relation of 
children to himself and to his kingdom, Jesus 
made but nine short statements. But these, when 
fully examined, are found to cover the whole 
ground, and to furnish to the Church so full a 
revelation of God's will as to leave no room for 
doubt or misconception. 

1. Whoever would Enter the Kingdom must Be- 
come Childlike in Order Thereto. 

The first of Christ's sayings to be considered 
has reference to admission into the kingdom, and 
really involves the whole question of membership 
in it. He said to his disciples, who were mature 

90 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

men and already partially at least instructed in 
the truths of the kingdom: "Except ye be con- 
verted and become as little children, ye cannot 
enter into the kingdom of heaven." 1 The occasion 
which gave rise to the utterance at that time was 
a wrangle among certain of the disciples as to 
which of them should be first in the kingdom. 
They were revealing those very disqualifications 
which are incident to an adult stage of life in such 
as have not been previously trained in the percep- 
tion of the spiritual aspects of life. They were in 
bondage to an established habit of thought, the 
habit of self-consideration. This preoccupation 
rendered it difficult for them to understand that 
spirit of unselfishness which is the first condition 
of genuine discipleship. "If any man will come 
after me, let him deny himself." The process is 
from fullness to emptiness, and then, a refilling. 

In this utterance Jesus was in reality announc- 
ing the great general law of entrance into the 
kingdom of truth, a law which, being true of the 

1 Matt, xviii. 3; Mark x. 15; Luke xviii. 17. 

Christ's Doctrine. 91 

highest or spiritual realm, includes all the inferior 
provinces. We are not surprised, therefore, to 
hear Mr. Huxley, a recognized authority in his 
sphere of research, saying: "Science seems to me 
to teach in the highest and strongest manner the 
great truth which is embodied in the Christian 
conception of entire surrender to the will of God. 
Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared 
to give up every preconceived notion, follow 
humbly wherever and to whatever abysses na- 
ture leads, or you shall learn nothing. I have 
only begun to learn content and peace of mind 
since I have resolved at all risks to do this." 1 

There are no risks to run. If what Mr. Hux- 
ley had already said be true, it follows that this 
course upon which he had resolved is the only one 
from which all risks that are to be considered by 
a seeker after truth have been eliminated. 

The use I would make of Mr. Huxley's witness 
is brief but important. It is this: that if this 
childlike attitude is necessary in order to the dis- 

1 "Life and Letters," Vol. I., p. 235. 

92 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

covery of truth in the realm of mere fact, how 
much more so in the realm of spiritual truth, 
where the data are vastly more occult and the 
range of interest is so much wider. Mr. Huxley's 
dictum expresses in well-chosen terms two of the 
very conditions which by general consent are the 
childlike qualities that prepare one for an entrance 
into the spiritual kingdom. The first of these is 
the giving up of "every preconceived notion," and 
the other the spirit to "follow humbly wherever 
nature leads," that is, wherever truth leads. Now 
these are precisely the disqualifications aimed at 
in the requirement that those who would enter 
the kingdom of God must become as little chil- 
dren. The trouble in the case of adults is pre- 
conceptions, preoccupations, and a lack of hu- 
mility or willingness to be led. It is because of 
the difficulty which the adult experiences in be- 
coming childlike that so few attain to large and 
reliable knowledge in the realm of science of 
which Mr. Huxley speaks ; and for the same rea- 
son the large majority of those who do not enter 
the kingdom of God in childhood 1 never enter it 

Christ's Doctrine. 93 

at all, at least in so far as the kingdom of God 
and the visible Church are identical. 

But religious teachers have at this point fallen 
into a grave error, which is a virtual surrender 
of the essential point in Christ's utterance, and a 
large part of the Church is even now held in the 
paralyzing grasp of that error. It came about in 
this way: The race as known at the coming of 
Jesus was a race of adults. Childhood, especially 
outside of the Jewish commonwealth, was regard- 
ed as a necessary evil antecedent to manhood. 
It was endured, passed through, because it had 
to be passed through to reach the stage of real 
being. When the disciples came. to address them- 
selves to this work, it was aimed at a generation 
of fathers who had to be converted before there 
could be a Christian childhood. Christian father- 
hood must precede. But on the threshold of this 
work the idols were met with ; there were precon- 
ceptions, preoccupations, prejudices, habits. To 
meet this difficulty it was perfectly natural that 
Christ's statement, that all who sought to enter 
must become as little children, should be made use 

94 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

of as an illustration, by which it would easily 
come about that childhood would become a mere 
analogue of conditions, and the children them- 
selves recede out of sight as claimants for actual 
membership in the new kingdom. Hence it has 
happened that the Church has up to this time 
spent much more energy in trying to teach men 
how to become good children than in teaching 
children how to become good men. It was neces- 
sary to teach both lessons, but the calamity is that 
the former has been taught almost to the exclu- 
sion of the latter, and to its consequent obscura- 

When Jesus said to his disciples, and through 
them to all adults who seek to enter the kingdom, 
that they must become as little children, he raised 
by implication a question which may as well be 
articulated here, namely this : Which is the easier, 
for one to act the child while he is a child, or, 
having grown up to manhood with its fixed condi- 
tions, to turn about and become a child again? 
At most, the conclusion to be derived from this 
statement of Jesus cannot be reduced below this, 

Christ's Doctrine. 95 

that as childlikeness is a state necessary to en- 
trance into the kingdom, childhood is the surest 
and best time for that entrance. 

2. Whoever, having Entered the Kingdom, would 
Become Great in it, Must Continue Childlike. 

As has already been seen, the dispute among 
the disciples was concerning greatness or supe- 
riority in the kingdom. According to their con- 
ception of the kingdom, that was a legitimate 
subject of discussion, but according to Christ's 
it was not. Hence he said to them: "Whosoev- 
er, therefore, shall humble himself as this little 
child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of 
heaven." 1 

The law of entrance and the law of growth are 
identical. The very qualities which fit a child 
for receiving the kingdom prepare a man for 
progress in it. He who disregards this law not 
only ceases to grow, but is in great danger of 
losing that which he has already attained. 

When St. Paul declares that when he was a 

1 Matt. xviii. 4. 

gG The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

child he spake, understood, and reasoned as a 
child, but that when he became a man he put 
away childish things, he did not mean to convey 
the idea that he put away any of those qualities 
enjoined in the condition of entrance into the 
kingdom. Humility, reverence, docility, frank- 
ness, faith, the unsuspecting and forgiving dis- 
position, are the childlike qualities, and they are 
alike the qualities of even the greatest men. Paul 
in writing to the Corinthian believers said : 
"Brethren, be not children, in understanding; 
howbeit in malice be ye children, but in under- 
standing be men." So St. Peter says: "Where- 
fore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and 
hypocrisies, and envies, and evil-speakings, as 
newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the 
word that ye may grow thereby." 

3. To Receive the Child is to Receive Christ. 

After announcing that the way to greatness in 
the kingdom of heaven was by childlike humility, 
Jesus passes from this characteristic of the child 
to the child himself, and says : "And whoso shall 

Christ's Doctrine. gy 

receive one such little child in my name receiveth 
me." 1 Nothing could be more intensely personal 
or more finely dramatic. All principles and 
rights are merged into personalities. Whoso re- 
ceives these receives Me; whoso offends these 
offends Me; as if the children were the special 
envoys of the King of kings. There is enough in 
this statement about receiving children, even if it 
stood alone, to furnish the grounds for the most 
elaborate and painstaking system of shepherding 
the most obscure and neglected children on earth. 

4. The Little Ones Shall Not be Despised. 

Jesus left no room for carelessness on the part 
of his disciples in dealing with this class of per- 
sons. He said: "Take heed, that ye despise not 
one of these little ones." 2 The mildest mean- 
ing of the word despise is, to undervalue; the 
harshest is, to pour contempt upon. The fault 
of the disciples then is the fault of the Church 
now, that of undervaluing children and the child- 

1 Matt, xviii. 5 ; Luke ix. 48 ; Mark ix. 37. 2 Matt, x viiil 10. 


98 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

like. The making of a wrong estimate results in 
all manner of wrong-going. Undervaluation is 
the "original sin," while neglect, contempt, and 
offenses make up the category of "actual trans- 
gression." The provision in the household and 
the Church fold for the care of children and for 
their development marks accurately the value in 
which the child is held. 

5. "But whoso shall offend one of these little 
ones which believe in me, it were better for 
him that a millstone were hanged about his 
neck, and that he were drowned in the depth 
of the sea." 1 

To offend is not simply to wound in the feel- 
ings. This of itself is a matter well worthy of 
regard by every Christian. But to offend means, 
to cause to stumble, to mislead, to injure in any 
serious respect, and especially in their relations 
as believers on Christ. 

The figure by which the penalty for offending 

1 Matt, xviii. 6. 

Christ's Doctrine. 99 

these little ones is set forth is a very striking one, 
as if Jesus would thereby arrest and hold atten- 
tion. The millstone mentioned here was of the 
large kind turned by an ass, rather than that 
turned by hand. The mode of killing was not 
Jewish at all, but Grecian; a Gentile method; 
quick, terrific, cheap, contemptuous, without even 
the doubtful consolation of a funeral cortege, or 
hired mourners. The weight dragged the victim 
instantly to the bottom — "to the depth of the 
sea" — a thud, a gurgle, and no trace of him was 
left. The neglected child is the millstone about 
the neck of modern society. 

There are not a few writers who hold that al- 
though the statement immediately preceding this 
("whoso shall receive one such little child in my 
name receiveth me") has to be taken to mean the 
literal child, this about offenses is to be under- 
stood as referring to weak or obscure believers. 
The chief reason for this seems to be that the 
phrase "little ones" here used is qualified by the 
further description, "which believe in me," indi- 
cating personal agency. 

ioo The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

It seems to me that this judgment is made up 
without proper regard for the situation. In the 
first place, this very child was probably large 
enough to be going about of himself. Jesus 
called the child to him. There was a tradition in 
the early Church that this child was Ignatius, 
afterwards saint and martyr. It is highly prob- 
able that the child, whoever he was, was capable 
of faith and was in the pure childish sense a be- 
liever. I would not contend for this, but merely 
assert its probability. The situation is really just 
as strong in regard to the clause, "which believe 
in me/' if we admit that this child, who was the 
object lesson in the discourse, was too young to 
be a believer as those were, doubtless, who were 
brought by their mothers, and of whom Jesus 
said, "Of such is the kingdom of God" ; for while 
early infancy is the time for the dedication of 
children to Christ, it is certainly the time of great- 
est safety for the infants themselves. They are, 
at that stage, in no liability of being misdirected 
or offended. But when they have grown up a 
little and reached the point at which they may 

Christ's Doctrine. 101 

believe or disbelieve, they have reached the dan- 
ger point and period — the time at which above 
all others they need right guidance, and at which 
they may be most effectively destroyed by being 
thrown out of the natural and easy way of belief 
in God. I truly believe that it was this later 
stage of childhood, this field of childhood faith, 
so sacred, so sensitive, at once so hopeful and so 
dangerous, around which Jesus is now throwing 
the guard of this startling penalty. The com- 
mentators seem to have kept their eyes too stead- 
ily fixed upon the infantile period, as if it were 
an unchanging state, whereas a little natural- 
ness in the consideration of childhood would have 
made Christ's words about offending the little 
ones who believe in him not only explicable, but 
almost necessary at the very point where they 
occur in the discourse. The two statements are 
indeed but the two hemispheres of a single notion, 
namely, how to treat children in their relation to 
Christ. In other words, the statement about of- 
fenses is not only logically demanded by the sit- 
uation, but those who have had experience in the 

102 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

religious direction of children would readily grant 
that if either notion, that of infantile reception or 
dedication, or the subsequent guardianship over 
the faith of the growing child, had to be omitted, 
it would be far better to omit the former. But 
the point is that the two things cannot, in har- 
mony with the doctrine of Christ, be thought 
apart from each other. 

Both the applicability of this text to children 
themselves and its far-reaching purport are 
stressed by the reflection that most of what the 
Church is now engaged about in the edification 
of its own members, and in behalf of the masses 
outside, is rendered necessary only by a failure to 
rightly direct the now grown-up populations in 
that very period of childhood faith of which Je- 
sus is speaking. 

This passage about offending the little ones 
occurs in almost identical terms in Matthew, 
Mark, and Luke. In Matthew it is the last state- 
ment in what is evidently a continuous discourse 
concerning children. In Mark it is separated 
from such a discourse only by an incident and 

Christ's Doctrine. 103 

certain remarks of the Master upon it. A child 
had in both cases been placed in the midst. Mark 
represents Jesus as giving the same line of re- 
mark as that given by Matthew; but when he 
reached the point of saying, "Whosoever shall re- 
ceive one of such children in my name receiveth 
me; and whoso receiveth me, receiveth not me, 
but him that sent me," Mark ix. 37, John "an- 
swered him," and gave the incident about the 
man who was casting out devils in Christ's name 
but who was not following with the disciples. 
When Jesus had given due attention to John's 
interruption and carried the lesson to the point 
of showing that the least favor shown, not to the 
"little ones" but even to the larger ones, the 
twelve, in his name, should be rewarded, he re- 
turns to the original line of remark, and thus says 
in this way what in Matthew is an unbroken dis- 

According to Luke the passage occurs just after 
the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, and be- 
ing immediately preceded by a statement con- 
taining the doctrine of offenses, seems to have an 

104 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

independent position in so far as its relation to 
children is concerned. This gives good room for 
the inference that it was also intended to apply to 
the little ones of Christ in both senses — the chil- 
dren and the weak or childlike. But all the indi- 
cations are that in the original logion, whether 
we take that to be Matthew's account as some 
think, or Mark's as others, the doctrine of of- 
fenses against the "little ones" was first spoken 
with direct reference to children. 

The simple teaching of these several passages is 
that as Jesus took the child as the type of an ac- 
ceptable membership in the kingdom, and an- 
nounced the inclusion of all others who should 
be converted by becoming like them, so he put the 
guard of the millstone figure around the simple 
faith of childhood, and then proceeded to place 
adult believers who were like the children, in 
respect particularly of being weak and hum- 
ble, under the same protection against the 
stronger who would take advantage of their 
weakness to oppress, injure, or turn them 
from the faith. 

Christ's Doctrine. 105 

As a conclusion of this survey let us note that 
when Jesus undertook to set forth the conditions 
of membership in the kingdom, both as to en- 
trance into it and growth within it, and to enforce 
the necessity of guardianship over the weak, the 
child, according to both Matthew and Mark, was 
actually present and was being made an object 
lesson and an analogue, while the weak, humble, 
obscure adult was never introduced anywhere in 
the Gospels as a subject of discourse, unless in 
Matt, xviii. 14 and Luke xvii. 2, and only then 
under the terms "little ones/' terms undoubtedly 
borrowed from the realm of literal childhood. 

But why such pains in seeking to fix the inter- 
pretation of these passages? The answer to this 
inquiry covers a most important field, and one 
which cannot but affect the estimate in which 
childhood is held, and which must inevitably, 
therefore, affect the Church's teaching and policy 
in regard to children. 

If, on the one hand, Christ's use of the child 
was merely rhetorical ; if he set him in the midst 
merely for the purpose of calling attention to 

106 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

certain abstract qualities which children are sup- 
posed to possess, and which men must have re- 
tained or regain in order to enter the kingdom; 
if such terms are used in regard to receiving a 
child in the name of Christ, in the statement, "of 
such is the kingdom of heaven," "despise not one 
of these little ones," "whosoever shall offend," 
etc., are intended to cover merely the same field 
of qualities and to protect weak and humble 
adults ; then a conclusion follows which warrants 
a certain course of action wholly at variance with 
the course to be pursued in any other event. The 
conclusion thence to be reached is that Jesus 
taught nothing with regard to the actual relation 
of children to him and his kingdom, and the pol- 
icy to be pursued is one that looks wholly to a 
system of adult evangelism. 

If, on the other hand, these sayings apply pri- 
marily to the children, and by inference or by 
separate teaching in similar terms to others like 
them, we have in the teaching of Jesus a distinct 
doctrine of universal child-relationship to the 
kingdom of heaven and such general direction for 

Christ's Doctrine. 107 

treatment of them as will insure their mainte- 
nance within this fold, and their growth to a 
manhood unmarred and unweakened by those 
hard conditions which are universally present in 
irreligious adults. 

When we consider the divine order in regard 
to children under the first dispensation, how they 
were inducted into the Church at eight days of 
age by circumcision just as Abraham was in 
mature life, how they were trained constantly in 
the family school of the law, and how in the latter 
times they assumed formal or full relations at the 
age of fourteen, it is scarcely conceivable that 
Jesus in establishing the new dispensation should 
have said nothing as to the relation of children 
to his kingdom and the proper treatment of them 
by those who were to be the real builders of the 
Church. And yet this is precisely what happened, 
this inexplicable silence on the part of the great 
Teacher, touching a subject of prime importance 
and universal human interest, if those commenta- 
tors be right who interpret the sayings of Jesus 
about children and the little ones as merely 

io8 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

rhetorical, or illustrative of other persons and 
their relations. 

6. "Suffer the little children to come." 

Again the disciples through blindness were 
objecting. Mothers had brought their children to 
the place where Jesus was teaching that the chil- 
dren might receive his blessing. The disciples 
rebuked them, but Jesus made way for their ap- 
proach, and said, ''Suffer the little children to 
come unto me." 1 The term means permit, allow 
them to come. The impulse is within them, and 
within the hearts of truly religious parents, and 
the demand of Jesus is that it shall not be ob- 

A corresponding truth is that all the elements in 
Jesus are such as appeal supremely to the child- 
like heart. His kindness, his gentleness, his can- 
dor, his simple majesty, his profound sympathy, 
his self-immolating love, his lot of suffering, his 
tragic death, and his resurrection, are qualities 

1 Matt. xix. 14; Mark x. 14; Luke xviii, 15. 

Christ's Doctrine. 109 

and conditions which awake all the generous love 
of childlike hearts and draw them toward him. 
What the children need, therefore, most of all 
is a revelation of Christ through the lives and 
teachings of those who have the right and place 
of authoritative guidance. 

7. "And forbid them not." 1 

This command has reference to those who have 
authority over children, as parents, teachers, and 
pastors. If interpreted in the strictest harmony 
with the incident which called it forth, it has 
primary application to authorized religious teach- 
ers and the Church. The mothers and the chil- 
dren were coming; it was the disciples who for- 
bade them and who were rebuked by the Master. 
It has, hence, on either side an official force and 
flavor, and may be regarded as primarily a com- 
mand to the Church. 

That the modern Church is, in a large meas- 
ure, violating this command greatly to its own 

1 Malt. xix. 14; Mark x. 14; Luke xviii. 15. 

no The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

undoing, scarcely needs to be argued. By a pol- 
icy of chilling neglect, by the almost exclusive 
expenditure of its energies upon efforts at adult 
conversion and culture, by omitting from the 
architecture of its houses of worship and of its 
sermons all consideration of a place for the little 
ones, by a failure to provide any well-adapted 
system of instruction until very recent years, and 
only partially so now, and above all by a failure 
to use the family in accord with the divine intent 
for the training of children in the nurture of a 
spiritual life, the Church is, like the disciples in 
the incident, forbidding the children to come to 
Jesus ; and the Christ of to-day, like Jesus in that 
incident, is rebuking his remiss and shortsighted 

8. "For of such is the kingdom of heaven/' 1 

Here, as in the other instances mentioned, the 
scholars differ widely as to the primary meaning 
of the text. Bengel, Paulus, de Wette, Arnoldi, 

1 Matt. xix. 14; Mark x. 14; Luke xviii. 16. 

Christ's Doctrine. m 

Keim, Hilgenfeld, Matthew Henry, and others, 
hold "of such" to mean literal children; while a 
number of others, perhaps fully as learned and 
skilled, prefer to regard the words as referring 
not to the literal children, but as a measure of 
certain qualities which all must possess in order 
to fitness for the kingdom. There seems to me to 
be but little real room for controversy here. The 
statement, "for of such is the kingdom of heaven," 
is assigned as a reason, or ground of propriety, 
of their being allowed to come to the Master of 
the kingdom for his blessing ; and the saying must 
mean one of two things — either, the kingdom of 
heaven is of such as these, but not these ; or, these 
and those who are like these. Certainly the for- 
mer of these meanings is impossible. 

Historically, the first interpretation given to 
this saying of our Lord, by the Church, was 
that certain childlike qualities, such as faith, 
love, obedience, etc., were necessary in order to 
salvation ; a position which is true, but which had 
a full statement in another and entirely different 
situation, as has already been shown. A second 

Jfovik (Bare 

ii2 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

interpretation was that some children, under cer- 
tain conditions, might become members of the vis- 
ible Church, which was a real and valuable ad- 
vance, but which in no wise measured up to the 
full meaning, which seems to be this : that the 
fittest of all for membership in the kingdom are 
the children themselves, and that when Christ's 
ideal Church is realized it will be a Church of 
children — that is, whose membership shall consist 
in the main of those whose entrance into it was 
under the natural and easy conditions furnished 
by childhood, and whose spiritual growth has kept 
pace with the physical and intellectual develop- 
ment until a well-rounded manhood has been at- 
tained under the laws of growth which belong to 
all the kingdoms of life. This interpretation does 
not, on the one hand, deny admittance to any in- 
dividual, however aged, who by neglect or willful- 
ness may have missed the early path ; nor does it, 
on the other hand, squint at the doctrine of in- 
herited holiness or any view that would minimize 
the necessity of being born again by the Spirit of 

Christ's Doctrine. 113 

p. "That in heaven their angels do always behold 
the face of my Father." 1 

This gives heaven's estimate of the value of 
childhood, and this vista is opened earthward that 
men may see their dependent offspring in the 
light which falls out of the eternal and invisible 
world. This guardianship, no doubt, extends in 
a peculiar sense to the mothers of the children, 
as those standing next to them in the divine or- 
der of protection and guidance. 

This survey would be incomplete without a 
word in regard to Christ's acceptance of the 
praises of the children on the occasion of his last 
visit to the temple. Luke's account says that the 
praises were from the whole multitude of the dis- 
ciples, and that certain Pharisees said to Jesus, 
"Master, rebuke thy disciples," whereupon Jesus 
said, "I will tell you that if these should hold their 
peace the very stones would immediately cry out." 
Matthew's account, on the other hand, makes the 
children the principal, if not the sole, participants 

1 Matt, xviii. 10. 

H4 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

in this act of praise. And when the chief priests 
and scribes said reproachfully to Jesus, "Hearest 
thou what these say ?" he answered in reply, "Yea, 
have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes 
and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?" 

It thus happened that Christ's ministry in the 
temple ended in an acclaim of praise from the 
children. It can scarcely be doubted that these 
praises from the little ones threw their consolatory 
influence far into the week of agony on which he 
was just then to enter; for Jesus was, of course, 
not only fully aware of the purport of this out- 
burst of praise in its relation to the future of the 
race, but he was also personally fond of children. 
It is a noteworthy fact that most of the writers 
on Christ's relations with children discover in his 
treatment of them the tokens, or at least the at- 
mospheres, of a strong personal affection. Dr. 
Zart in his "Charm of Jesus" goes so far as to say 
outright that Jesus took the little ones up, folded 
them in his arms, and kissed them. 





From the foregoing statement of Christ's doc- 
trine concerning children and their relation to his 
kingdom, it becomes perfectly clear what his will 
is. If it should be found that his works as ex- 
pressed in the nature of the child in anywise con- 
tradict this conclusion derived from his words, 
there would be good grounds for rejecting the 
interpretation we have made of his teaching. But 
when this view is reenforced by his works, and 
also by the experience of the Church both in its 
failure to do much with adult populations and 
its success when dealing with childhood and 
youth, it becomes so thoroughly buttressed as to 
become immovable. 

It is coming in this day to be allowed by the 
best psychologists that a man, however well de- 
veloped in other departments of his being, is not 


iiS The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

an educated man unless his religious nature has 
also been educated. There is no more possibility 
of a complete and virile manhood in the relations 
a man sustains to the kingdom of God without a 
harmonious and full development of his religious 
faculties than there is of a corresponding place in 
the world of mere thought without a full intel- 
lectual training and equipment. 

If we begin with those engagements of men in 
which the physical faculties predominate, we find 
that there can be no perfect work either in itself 
as a product, or in its effect upon the workman, 
without a proper training in the art to be pursued, 
and that no such training can be had otherwise 
than by a process of training, even of habituation, 
which begins in very early life. 

When we ascend into the higher realms of the 
fine arts, the same thing is found to obtain. To 
make a first-rate musician or painter without a 
preparatory training in early life is ordinarily im- 
possible, and for the largest results this training 
needs to be reenforced by a blood which has the 
tendency in it. It is now customary in preparing 

The Child's Religious Education. 119 

for the more complex spheres of a large profes- 
sional life and the life of the scholar to devote 
from twenty to twenty-five years to preparation 
therefor, and the most impcrtant part of this long 
period is the first part of it, because wrong habits 
of observation, of thought, and of self-direction 
acquired in childhood are almost ineradicable. 

In the still higher sphere of the spirit the same 
law prevails, and for still higher reasons. The 
spirit or moral nature, to which all the under 
faculties are in subjection, calls, in the nature of 
the case, for more complex relations than any 
other. It touches distinctly upon two worlds, 
with all the relations which obtain in both. It is 
the sphere in which, in reality, all destiny is de- 
termined. The moral nature is also the sphere 
in which the greatest perversion has occurred, 
and in which there is to be found, therefore, the 
greatest weakness. For these reasons there is 
more need of accurateness, thoroughness, and ex- 
tent in religious education than in that of any 
other class. 

And vet it must be confessed bv the most ardent 

i2o The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

religionists that the past and present order of 
religious education is, in many cases, a mere 
travesty. It consists in the main of a small 
amount of desultory knowledge, and, worse than 
all, follows the effete tradition that knowledge is 
education. The little knowledge thus imparted 
is not well adapted, for the lack of that wisdom 
which makes the knowledge a mere means, the 
end being a strong, rich, indestructible moral or 
spiritual character. As a matter of fact, the most 
nugatory of all the forms of knowledge is moral 
knowledge when it fails to issue in moral char- 
acter. Its one aim and end is character, and 
missing this it is nothing. It loses even its charm 
as an attainment. As the man with a large edu- 
cational and literary equipment who can do noth- 
ing in the world is a failure, so the man thorough- 
ly furnished in a knowledge of the doctrines and 
duties of a spiritual life without a corresponding 
moral character is an offense even in the eyes of 
men. Almost every such case is due to a failure 
at the point of training in the acts and thought of 
a moral life. It is easy to see, therefore, that a 

The Child's Religious Education. 121 

very large and inalienable part of religious edu- 
cation is, indeed, the establishment of a habit of 
virtue, the vital transformation of a knowledge of 
the good into a life of goodness. One of the pro- 
foundest and most far-reaching of our Lord's 
sayings is this: "If any man will do the will of 
my Father, he shall know of the doctrine." Any 
system of religious education which proposes the 
attainment of religious knowledge as an end, or 
that fails to provide that such knowledge shall be 
irradiated with the light which comes only from 
the habit of obediently and reverently following 
after the best, is exceedingly faulty, and must ever 
continue to be disappointing in its outcome. 

The doctrine of human depravity, as commonly 
taught, has had the effect of obscuring certain 
other truths which are practically of much more 
importance. Among these is the truth that chil- 
dren are by nature religious. The Creator has 
planted the religious instinct so deep that the an- 
nihilation or even serious perversion of it requires 
not a little of bad training and misguidance. This 
endowment furnishes a vantage ground which, 

i22 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

taken in connection with the divine order of the 
family, makes possible the determination and se- 
cure establishment of the religious life before the 
child is separated from the home. 

The two great elements of personal religion are 
faith and obedience. Childhood is preeminently 
the period of faith ; not a faith to be discounted, 
as is often done by reason of the fact that it is 
childish, but a faith the purest, simplest, and most 
effectual known to any period of man's life. 
Childhood is also the time of times in the matter 
of obedience. The child's weakness and the par- 
ent's strength; the ignorance of the one and the 
knowledge of the other, together with the child's 
natural sense of dependence, make the establish- 
ment of the habit of obedience the easiest of all 
parental tasks. By the habit of obedience I do 
not mean the mere custom of doing the things 
required and abstaining, from those forbidden, 
though in many cases that would be a beautiful 
achievement, but rather that condition of char- 
acter in the child which leads it to refer all things 
easily and without conscious limitations to the will 

The Child's Religious Education. 123 

of the parent as already expressed, or as fairly in- 
terpreted by the mind of the child. 

The religious instincts or genius of the child, 
and the opportunity of the parents, are thus in the 
divine order placed so close together, and answer 
so easily to each other, that there is in the scheme 
of nature no reason for impiety in the child ex- 
cept the irreligion of parents. In other periods 
in life there may be other causes for it which 
parents may not wholly control or resist, but nev- 
er in childhood, since the guardianship of children 
is as sacred a duty as are support and instruction. 

But there is still another point of very great 
importance, touching the divine adaptation of 
childhood to religious life, which, though not 
wholly a discovery of the recent processes in the 
study of child life, has found great reenforcement 
and a much clearer statement through the scien- 
tific treatment applied to the data furnished. 

Probably the last fifty years have witnessed 
more real study of the child than was known from 
the beginning of the Christian era to that time. 
Out of this study has come a large and varied 

124 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

assortment of books dealing with the child on its 
physical, intellectual, and religious sides. Among 
these books is Dr. Starbuck's work on "The Psy- 
chology of Religion." The basis of this treatise 
is composed of data gathered by the scientific 
method and classified accordingly. A number of 
inquiries definitely formed were addressed to a 
wide range of persons, varied in nationality and 
domestic habitat, as well as in religious affiliation 
and educational advantages. The answers were 
given with evident care and conscientiousness. 
One of the most important conclusions reached 
by this method of inquiry was that there is at a 
certain period of adolescence a physiological con- 
dition which tends directly to the presentation 
from within of the needs of a religious life ; that 
is, a sort of conscious crisis of life which leads 
to the contemplation of the more serious aspects 
of life and of destiny, and withal a sense of in- 
dividuality, personality, and responsibility which 
comes so clearly without connection with any out- 
side cause as to indicate its purely internal origin. 
The average age for this experience lies between 

The Child's Religious Education. 125 

that of twelve and fourteen years. It is a note- 
worthy fact that this age corresponds very ac- 
curately with that at which the Jewish child was 
recognized in its individual relations with the 

Dr. Coe, 1 who has taken similar data, in speak- 
ing on this subject, says: "The mental condition 
during adolescence is particularly favorable to 
deep religious impressions. This is the time that 
the child becomes competent to make a deeply 
personal life choice; such a choice is now easier 
than either before or after; this is, accordingly, 
the time at which a wise Church will expect to 
reap its chief harvest of members." He further 
says : "Nor is the Christian religion alone in mak- 
ing this age a turning point. Daniels gives a 
long list of religious practices, signalizing the 
simultaneous initiation of youths into manhood 
and into the mysteries and covenants of religion." 
He adds to the instances given by Daniels a very 
beautiful one to the same effect from the customs 
of the American Indians. 

1 " The Spiritual Life," pp. 47, 48. 

i"26 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

Discerning men have always known that for 
many reasons childhood is the best time to begin 
the religious life, and most of what the Church 
has thus far achieved has been due to the follow- 
ing in part of Christ's teaching on this subject; 
but this discovery through scientific methods of 
a natural tendency toward the great religious ends 
for which men are created, cannot but quicken the 
interest and enlarge the intelligence of men con- 
cerning the value of this period. This discovery 
ought to be of very great service to parents and 
other teachers in interpreting the moods of chil- 
dren and in giving definite direction to their 

In connection with this conclusion of Dr. Star- 
buck's as to the age of the religious impulse, it 
should be noted that it does not stand at all 
against the most painstaking training of children 
in religion from their earliest years, provided 
that training be thoroughly rational, that is, in 
harmony with the child's power of intelligence 
and the simple demands of its nature. Indeed, 
there is still room left for a specific inquiry into 

The Child's Religions Education. 127 

the experiences at that age, or state of adoles- 
cence of those who have been thus normally 
trained, and consequently adjusted in a large 
measure beforehand to the peculiar impulsions 
of that stage of life. 

There are some who object to this scientific 
treatment of the religious nature on the ground 
that it reduces the subject to the plain of the nat- 
uralistic and possibly the materialistic. But noth- 
ing is further from the truth. Indeed, there is 
real strengthening of the claims of religion when 
the subject is considered from that standpoint. 
It certainly does not heighten the supernatural 
aspects of religion to prove that man was so con- 
structed originally, or so affected by the fall, that 
there is not in the race any constitutional demand 
for religion, or inherent impulse toward it. The 
response of man's nature to the external and su- 
pernatural provisions which the Christian religion 
furnishes is one of the finest confirmations of the 
divine origin of it. It furnishes the strongest 
demonstration that the Creator of man is also the 
author of man's religion. Ignorance of this in- 

128 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

ward tendency and its periods of manifestation 
surely does not heighten the qualification of those 
who have guardianship over children for dealing 
with the religious problem. 

But the existence of the religious faculty, and 
the impulses toward a religious life which spring 
out of it, are not enough. There has been too 
much dependence upon these mere fundamental 
facts, and hitherto entirely too little care given to 
the early, continuous, and harmonious develop- 
ment of this faculty into a well-rounded and 
wholesome religious character. As the existence 
of intellectual faculties and their varied impulses 
does not take away the necessity for the most 
careful and continuous training from the very 
beginning of life in order to the production of a 
great intellectual character, so in the spiritual 
realm the existence of this faculty and the signs 
which it gives of its presence in mighty religious 
impulses is a chief ground for such a treatment of 
the religious faculties as is usually bestowed upon 
the intellect. 






















Whether there is any complete salvation, ei- 
ther of the individual or the race, otherwise than 
by education, is a subject well worth the attention 
of the modern Church. In the consideration of 
it there are two prejudices which stand in the way 
of a full discovery of the truth. One of these is 
based upon a popular misapprehension of what is 
meant by the phrase, "salvation by education." 
It is sometimes interpreted to mean that by the 
full and harmonious development of the intellec- 
tual faculties men will be led so to see and love 
the truth as to be brought thereby into harmony 
with the divine purpose, and to be saved from thf 
errors and sins of an immoral life. If this were 
the meaning of the terms, it would be well for 
the Church to resist that view with all proper 


132 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

vigor; for it has been demonstrated again and 
again that merely intellectual education, however 
high and broad, will not save men in the spiritual 
sense. That it will do so is not the meaning of 
these terms. The strongest advocate which the 
last century had of the educational process of 
saving men was Horace Bushnell; and perhaps 
the strongest in our own country in this century 
thus far are Drs. Hall, Coe, Starbuck, Haslett, 
Du Bois, etc. Surely neither of these has held 
that any process of merely intellectual develop- 
ment, however correct and elaborate, can save the 
souls of men from sin. 

The other idol is of a much more formidable 
character. It has appearances and traditions in 
its favor, and an enthronement in the policies and 
literature of the Church. It is what has already 
been mentioned as the rupture theory of salva- 
tion, or the doctrine of adult conversion, against 
which, in the case of any who have already be- 
come adult without being saved, no one has aught 
to say ; but against which as a theory for the ac- 
tion of the Church in its efforts to save the race 

The Educational Function. 133 

there is much to be said ; much more, indeed, than 
the scope of this discussion will allow. 

"It has been the misfortune of the Church," 
says Coe, "to form its conception of humanity 
from adult members of the race, and to conceive 
of the process of salvation under the limitations 
thus resulting." And it must be confessed that 
there are ostensibly strong grounds for such a 
conception. In the first place, the adult race is 
the race as it is, however much it may differ 
from the race as it ought to be and may be made 
to become under changed conditions. Then it 
is a plain fact in Church history that Christ and 
his immediate disciples addressed themselves to 
an adult generation. This example was followed, 
or the same thing done for similar reasons, by 
the apostles and even by the fathers, except that 
in the latter case a catechumenical order was also 
included. But even in this it is probable that the 
children and youth were put upon food more 
adapted to adults than to persons of tender age. 
Herein two very destructive errors originated: 
one was the notion that the Church could reach 

I 34 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

and save a grown-up generation; and the other, 
that a statement of doctrine aimed at the conver- 
sion of adults could be made effectual in the 
training of children. The influence of these er- 
rors has been enlarged by the fact that they stood 
in their origin so close to the first sources of 
Church history. There has since been added their 
long and supposedly honorable history, which, 
coupled with their origin, seems to have endowed 
them with a sort of immortality. 

Students of the problem of religious education 
sometimes overlook a fact which if properly rec- 
ognized becomes a chief argument in favor of the 
position which they seek to establish. The fact 
referred to is that nearly all of what the Church 
has achieved thus far has been accomplished by 
the use of the educational process. 

It is almost beyond doubt that the order of 
instruction prevailing in the Jewish Church was 
carried with suitable modifications into the first 
movements of the Christian Church. We have 
in Luke's writings two intimations of this, which, 
when considered in connection with the preex- 

The Educational Function. 135 

isting custom in this regard, make the case quite 
clear. The first of these is the statement in Luke 
i. 4. Here Luke, in declaring to Theophilus his 
reasons for addressing the treatise to him, says: 
"That thou mightest know the certainty of those 
things, wherein thou hast been instructed." Both 
the situation and the words used in the original 
indicate that this instruction was in a regular 
course of truth, ministered either privately by 
some chosen tutor or in a class being taught in 
the things of Christ. The second instance is the 
statement in Acts xviii. 25, that Apollos was a 
"man instructed in the way of the Lord." The 
absence in his case of the deeper spiritual knowl- 
edge of Christ's way, and of Christian baptism, 
indicates that he had been instructed in the teach- 
ing of John the Baptist concerning Jesus, prob- 
ably by some disciple of John, and that he had 
also been instructed in the historic side of the 
life of Christ. If so, Apollos was in a peculiar 
sense a connecting link between the two dispen- 
sations and the two orders of teaching. When it 
is said that Aquila and Priscilla took him unto 

136 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

them and expounded unto him the way of God 
more perfectly, it is not to be inferred that this 
exposition was the work of an hour or of a single 
occasion, but rather that it was a course of in- 
struction, and most probably of induction into the 
experience of a truly spiritual life. The differ- 
ence between Apollos at Ephesus and Apollos in 
Achaia is quite marked. 

It must here be noted that at that period the 
Church, while not neglecting the Jews in any 
place, was addressing itself chiefly to the uncon- 
verted millions of the Gentile world. Those mil- 
lions were, in the nature of the case, mostly 
adults at first; and consequently the course of 
instruction had to be adapted to such, rather than 
to those of tender years. It seems fairly clear 
that at this point the. Church fell into an economic 
error from which it has not yet been delivered — 
the error of feeding the lambs on the food of the 
sheep. At any rate, it stands sufficiently estab- 
lished that the age immediately succeeding that 
of the apostles saw the introduction of an order of 
religious schools for the teaching of uninstructed 

The Educational Function. 137 

adults and children, by which, probably more than 
by all other means, Christianity spread in the sec- 
ond and third centuries till its nominal member- 
ship was almost commensurate with the popula- 
tion of the Roman Empire. In this connection 
Dr. Philip Schaff, in his "History of the Christian 
Church," calls attention to the fact that from the 
days of the apostles till the opening of the Mid- 
dle Ages no names of great missionaries are men- 
tioned, and that there were no missionary socie- 
ties from that time till after the coming of the 
Nicene Age. 

Much light is thrown upon the work of the 
Church in this period, and the results accruing, 
by two facts. The first of these is that the fore- 
most minds of the Church, both among preachers 
and teachers, regarded this employment of teach- 
ing, which was largely catechising the young, as 
a chief work from which the greatest and most 
learned need not, did not, turn. The second fact 
is that the most prominent and formidable en- 
emies of early Christianity regarded the teaching 
of the young as the greatest power for the spread 

138 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

of the doctrine of Christ — and the thing, there- 
fore, chiefly to be resisted. 

Celsus, in the second century, the first writer 
against Christianity whose work is extant, laid 
it as an accusation against the Church that it was 
teaching Christianity to the children of the em- 
pire without consent and without the right to do 
so; while in the fourth century the edict of the 
Emperor Julian, the apostate, by which the 
schools of the empire were to be taken into the 
control of the state, was intended to shut the 
Christian teachers out from the schools, and thus 
make an end of this victorious influence. The 
results of this teaching work are thus brought 
to light by the estimate in which it was held by 
the most enlightened friends, and the most pow- 
erful enemies of Christianity. Julian himself was 
the better prepared to attack the great citadel be- 
cause of the inside view he had obtained of its 
uses and its usefulness in the establishment of the 
Christian faith and life. 

It is scarcely to be questioned that the net 
increase of the modern Church is chiefly due to 

The Educational Function. 139 

a growth from within. It is altogether probable 
that the growth from without, that is, from the 
non-Christian classes, is more than negatived by 
the losses through death and by lapses; so that 
the real increment is from that element brought 
in in childhood, or prepared in childhood for the 
step subsequently taken. The trouble lies in this, 
that a reliance upon the plan of adult conversion 
has stood in the way to prevent an unreserved and 
universal use of the method by Christian nurture. 
The believer himself, converted at an adult age, if 
realizing at all the need of bringing up his family 
in a religious way, has at best contradicted the 
true and only divinely appointed method by bring- 
ing his children up for a future conversion. In 
this way there has come to be a succession of reli- 
gious guides who habitually look to a period be- 
yond childhood as the period for the beginning of 
a religious life, and of children into whose educa- 
tion has been incorporated the false and fatal no- 
tion that they must wait for a certain maturity 
before they can virtuously consider the question 
of all questions, that of a spiritual life. 




All true education, whether bodily, intellectual, 
or spiritual, is a process of development from 
within. There is a necessary and accompanying 
process which is too often mistaken for education. 
That process is one of feeding for the body, in- 
struction for the intellect, and indoctrination, 
which is somewhat more than instruction, for the 
spirit. In all these respects the pupil must be 
fed with suitable food both as to kind and quan- 
tity, but the availability of that contribution which 
has its origin from without depends upon the ac- 
tion of the faculties which belong to the living 
organism. The necessary elements of all health- 
ful development are atmosphere, food, and exer- 
cise. It scarcely need be said that there must be 
a vital organism to do the breathing, the eating, 
and to put forth, either consciously or uncon- 
sciously, the effort. In physical development the 


144 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

body is the vital entity; in intellectual education, 
the mental faculties; and in spiritual education, 
what ? 

It is quite easy to answer that in religious edu- 
cation the religious faculties are the vital organ- 
ism. But what is the state of these faculties? 
Is the education of these faculties the mere devel- 
opment of man's moral nature with all its de- 
praved tendencies? Or, is it a gradual eradica- 
tion of these tendencies, a sort of progressive new 
birth by human agencies? Or, is it a merely 
negative work, that is, one of the repression of 
the evil growth? It is probable that the masters 
of theology and of pedagogics would alike avoid 
each of the horns of this trilemma ; the first two, 
as being out of harmony with a correct theology, 
and the last, with educational science. 

As this is not a theological discussion, I shall 
not enter far into the question of human deprav- 
ity; and yet it stands so closely related to the 
problem of religious education that it cannot 
be wholly omitted. 

I sincerely believe in the fall of man, and that 

The Education of What? 145 

thereby evil tendencies came to be so much a part 
of human nature as to demand a divine remedy. 
It has been commonly taught that the offspring 
of Adam are, by virtue of their relation to him, 
wholly depraved. It is possible that in consider- 
ing the signs upon which this judgment is made 
up too much is ascribed to that remote ancestor 
and not enough to those who are nearer. What- 
ever may be the true theory, the practical trou- 
bles from which we suffer are not due so much to 
Adam as to the Adamses; that is, to those just 
back of us whose personal impulses we feel in 
our own blood and by whose neglect or leader- 
ship we have reached our present status. But 
whether this depravity be partial or entire, wheth- 
er it be wholly ascribable to Adam or distributa- 
ble to our intervening ancestry, it is an awful fact 
for which a divine remedy is provided in Jesus 
Christ. That this remedy is adequate, no Chris- 
tian ever questions. He knows its efficacy and 
its divine amplitude. The question of supreme 
interest is not the old one of sin and its cure, 
that is settled; but rather one of the time and 

146 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

method for the application of that remedy in 
order that it may be most effectual. The doc- 
trine of the Christian system is that the recovery 
is possible only by a divine regeneration. There 
is no system of training or regenerative influence 
that can supersede this order. It were as easy 
to produce wheat from the seed of tares by an 
elaborate process of cultivation as to develop an 
acceptable religious character without the im- 
planting of the divine life principle in the human 
heart. This much assured, the question follows 
as to when and on what conditions this divine act 
passes upon the human spirit and makes it a new 

In the case of the adult, or fully responsible 
person, the conditions are plainly repentance 
toward God and faith in Christ. However varied 
may be the experience of such, there is one thing 
common to all, that is, that no man ever repented 
for Adam's transgression or exercised faith in 
Christ that he might be saved from the evil con- 
sequence of deeds done by any ancestor, even 
the one nearest of kin. The burden of everv 

The Education of What? 147 

penitent heart is its own transgressions of the 
divine law, and in the act of faith the immaculate 

Saviour is seen wholly in relation to the personal 


sins and sinfulness of the penitent. But when we 
turn from the adult to the child, the situation is 
wholly different. 1^ 

Just here a question of very great importance 
arises, a satisfactory settlement of which would 
throw much light on the situation. The ques- 
tion is, whether or not God, in view of the re- 
deeming work of Christ, is at liberty without 
further conditions to apply to the race the ben- 
efits of the atonement in so far as they are to 
affect the state of man in relation to the fall ? In 
other words, as the race inherits its evil nature 
from Adam, is the Creator in a position through 
the work of Christ to countervail those evil con- 
ditions by a divine act, known as the new birth? 
Is there any reason to the contrary in the case of 
infants? There are several considerations which 
seem to favor it. The idea of "federal headship" 
calls for it. May it not be true here, as at the 
point of physical life after death, "that as in 

148 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made 
alive"? There is no community in Christendom 
that does not believe in the salvation of those who 
die in infancy. It must be granted that in that 
event they are entirely fitted by nature for this 
transition, or are so affected by the divine power 
through the atonement as to become fitted for 
the heavenly kingdom. If a child who is to 
grow up in the companionship of the redeemed 
and of angels needs this regeneration, how much 
more do those children need it who are to grow 
up amid the adverse conditions of the sinful 
world? And if God is at liberty to perform this 
great renewing or preparing act in behalf of those 
who are to die, what hinders it in the case of 
those who are to live ? 

It will be recalled in this connection that a very 
large and intelligent part of the Christian Church 
believes in the doctrine of baptismal regeneration ; 
that is, that when parents perform their part to a 
covenant by dedicating their children to God in 
baptism, God on his part gives the little ones the 
blessing which the baptism symbolizes, namely, 

The Education of What? 149 

the washing of regeneration. For men in certain 
situations this is a very beautiful doctrine, but 
one trouble is that it implies that the , children 
of negligent and irreligious parents are bound 
to very hard conditions for which they are not 
responsible, and that God is thus bound to too 
small and uncertain a sphere in the performance 
of one of his most important acts in behalf of man. 
If God were to be limited in this great movement 
by any special time or occasion in which others 
than himself and the child have a part, surely 
none were more appropriate than that which is 
found in the use of the incomparably beautiful 
and solemn sacrament of infant baptism. But 
for whatever reason a child may be regenerated 
in baptism, it may be regenerated at some other 
time. The parental performance has value in it 
for the future of the child only because the par- 
ents thus commit themselves to the training of it 
in the nurture of God. The act itself has cer- 
tainly nothing in it which clears the way for God 
to do for that child that which needs to be done 
in the case of all children, sooner or later. 

150 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

If it be asked how it happens that in the event 
of the spiritual renewal of children they after- 
wards fall into evil ways, the answer is, that such 
renewal cannot do more for man than to restore 
him to his primeval condition and relation to God. 
This was exactly the kind of man who was the 
first to fall away and to "bring sin into the world 
and all our woe." Not only so, but from Adam's 
situation must be subtracted that vast sinful order 
in the midst of which his posterity has thus far 
been compelled to live. It requires but a small 
stretch of the imagination to see that if Adam, 
although created absolutely pure in nature, had 
had a boyhood surrounded by the kind of boys 
who encompass almost all the children who have 
sprung from him, together with the bad example 
of his seniors and the atmospheres of an unchris- 
tian home, his liability to fall would have been 
greatly increased. If, therefore, it be granted 
that all children are divinely renewed at the be- 
ginning of their lives, it is still not to be wondered 
at if under the misguidance, the neglect, and the 
intimate temptations of our sinful order they fall 

The Education of What? 151 

away, and thus efface the divine image even as 
Adam did. If it be asked, What is the spiritual 
status of such as thus depart from God? the an- 
swer is, It is a fallen estate just as Adam's was. 
And what is the remedy ? Renewal by the power 
of God on the conditions of repentance and faith 
as given in the gospel for adult transgressors. 

If it be true that God renews men in their 
infancy, there can be no necessity for their falling 
away. A system of truly Christian nurture, in 
harmony with the demands of the word of God 
and the laws of moral being, will bring them to 
the time and state of full personal accountability, 
fortified by all the experiences of the home and 
school and by a thoroughgoing habit of virtue. 

There is another view of this subject which 
deserves at least to be here stated. I refer to the 
one propounded by Dr. Bushnell. In his doctrine 
of the organic unity of the family, he holds that 
the child is not wholly born when it comes into 
a separate physical existence; that the other ele- 
ments of its nature, the intellectual and spiritual, 
are just then beginning to be born; that for the 

15 2 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

fuller birth of these faculties the child is still in 
the matrix of the family ; and that out of the at- 
mosphere, example, and instruction of the home 
the child is brought to full birth. This doctrine 
of the organic unity of the family undoubtedly 
contains a great truth and one which operates 
very largely in the direction which Dr. Bushnell 
describes. The acceptance of it in this day, when 
the tendency, just as in his own day, is toward 
a too unrestrained, unmodified, individualism, 
would work out the most wholesome results in 
family life and in the after relations of society. 
But if the import of his doctrine is that the new 
or spiritual birth, though coming from God, comes 
by or through the channels of family life and 
influence, it is questionable whether this is not at 
last only a removal of the great event somewhat 
further forward in the life of the child; and 
whether also it does not, as in the case of bap- 
tismal regeneration, leave the neediest children, 
or those who are without religious or dutiful par- 
ents, out of the account. 

But whatever may be the conclusion as to a 

The Education of What? 153 

universal renewal of men in their infancy, one 
thing is sure, and that is that God is present with 
the child and in the child. He is the source of 
its religious impulses. He reigns in the con- 
science and vitalizes what truth the child is taught 
or derives from intuition. He is present in the 
functions of the Holy Spirit to exert every pos- 
sible gracious influence for the development of the 
good and the eradication of the evil. He begets 
in the child the impulse toward himself, and then 
says to those in authority over it: "Suffer the 
little children to come unto me, and forbid them 
not; for of such is the kingdom of God." 

If we assume that that which is to be developed 
in the child is the spiritual life divinely implanted 
in him by an act of renewal, or initial life, or ini- 
tial salvation, we have no difficulty in fixing upon 
a plan of training which is truly educational. The 
aim of religious education then becomes the de- 
velopment of the individuality into a completed 
spiritual personality, by processes which are nor- 
mal, and which correspond with those observed 
in all the other kingdoms of life. 

154 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

In concluding this chapter, it may be well to 
remark that no claim of originality is made for 
the suggestion it contains as to the work of the 
Divine Spirit upon the moral nature of the child 
and its effect in solving one of the main diffi- 
culties in the problem of religious education. 
Many good and great men, some of them writers 
of large ability, have held and promulgated the 
doctrine of the divine qualification of infants for 
membership in the kingdom of heaven. Espe- 
cially has this been true in the Methodist school 
of thought. John Fletcher, of Madeley, taught 
explicitly the doctrine of initial life or salva- 
tion ; F. G. Hibbard, of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, wrought out an elaborate scriptural and 
rational argument in favor of universal renewal 
in infancy ; and Dr. Leo Rosser, one of the great 
revivalists of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
South, issued a volume of similar import. 





The Church is the chief instrument through 
which the Holy Spirit is to achieve all the ends 
for which Jesus Christ came among men. These 
ends, however wide and varied they may be as 
found in society and in national life or civiliza- 
tions, are all included in the one notion of Chris- 
tian character. Without going into a discussion 
of this theme which might easily fill a volume, I 
may say in a word that Christian character is 
Christlikeness in all the imitable qualities revealed 
in the character and life of Jesus. Again, without 
undertaking to discuss the Church, I would say 
that the Church, in so far as it is one with the 
kingdom of God, consists ( I ) of all the children 
of the race who have not reached the age or con- 
ditions of moral independence, or who, having 
reached such conditions, have not voluntarily or 
wickedly departed from God; and (2) of all of 


158 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

any age who have faith in Jesus Christ and are 
obediently following the law of God and subject- 
ing themselves to the guidance of the Holy Spirit 
for the one great end of perfecting Christian 
character in themselves and others. 

Despite the imperfections of the Church which 
in every age have sprung out of the human ele- 
ments in it, the Holy Spirit has through its instru- 
mentality brought about that miracle of miracles, 
the transformation of a large part of the race 
from savagery to civilization. If the Church as a 
mere human organization had attempted to forge 
its way along this path of immense resistance, it 
would have failed destructively ; but as an organ 
of the Holy Spirit, it has quickened the intellect 
of man, recast his emotional nature, strengthened 
and redirected his will in such wise as to have 
produced all that goodness in the world, both 
within the Church and outside of it, which differ- 
entiates the Christian man from the barbarian, 
and marks those vast moral expanses which lie 
between Christendom and heathendom. 

The Church as the instrument of the Holy 

The Church and the Home. 159 

Spirit in the production of Christian character, 
when acting normally, works at once in two chief 
spheres, the evangelical and the educational. The 
evangelical sphere may be defined sufficiently for 
the present purpose as that in which by the use 
of the word of God, especially in the preaching 
of it, the Church seeks the conversion of trans- 
gressors and the upbuilding of believers. The 
educational field, while aiming at the same fruits 
in a somewhat different way, is broader and more 
complex, and demands a survey in particular of 
at least two of its included institutions, namely, 
the Christian home and the Sunday school. 

Let it be remarked, first of all, that the Church 
of Christ is fundamentally an educational insti- 
tution. This is true even in regard to its most 
thoroughly evangelical work. The fruits of a 
thousand revivals have been largely thrown away 
by a failure to apprehend this truth, the citizen- 
ship of the kingdom becoming impoverished, and 
not infrequently decimated, for lack of the educa- 
tional order from the point of conversion onward. 
It has already been said that the object for which 

160 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

the Church exists is the development of Chris- 
tian character. When in this connection we re- 
gard the fact that a complete religious character 
is no more possible without the education of the 
spiritual faculties than is a right intellectual char- 
acter without due cultivation, we realize the im- 
portance of giving to the educational function of 
the Church its proper place, and of carefully 
studying the institutions and the methods by 
which this end may be best achieved. 

The Church is by divine appointment the spe- 
cial guardian of the childhood of the race, and is, 
therefore, charged with the conception and opera- 
tion of proper plans for the religious education of 
the young life committed to it. Foremost among 
the agencies for this end is the home. In the 
outset God made the home the chief sphere of 
religious training, and there the very scheme of 
nature holds it by conditions which cannot be 

The Christian home was founded by Jesus 
Christ. Some of the elements were already pres- 
ent in the Jewish home, but there the divine order 

The Church and the Home. 161 

in the establishment of the family had been much 
perverted. Jesus cleared the home of bigamy 
and polygamy, which had prevailed with such 
desolating results ; and of divorce, which doubt- 
less in many cases then as now was but a sort of 
progressive polygamy ; and he also freed the home 
from certain Jewish traditions relating to the 
treatment of parents which had worked a thor- 
oughgoing contradiction of the laws of nature 
and of God. 

Outside of the Jewish commonwealth the state 
of the home was even worse. The Greeks and 
Romans, the best and greatest of the outside na- 
tions, had been working at various problems on 
the obverse or Gentile side of religious life and 
civilization. Among both, the home was almost 
nothing. Marriage was, when at all respected, 
exceedingly loose. Woman was degraded, some- 
times splendidly, but none the less truly; and 
children were much despised and neglected; 
while the strongest and best n.en among them 
were lax both in their doctrines and doings 
concerning the marriage relation and those sa- 

162 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 


cred duties which belong by nature to the human 

The Christian home, by its original constitu- 
tion and the teaching of Christ, rests upon the one 
foundation of monogamic marriage ; that is, mar- 
riage with one husband or one wife at a time. 
This union, according to Jesus, is for life. The 
violation of the seventh commandment is the only 
capital crime against the estate and the only 
ground of its lawful dissolution. Even then the 
offending party to the union is put under dis- 
abilities which, if not absolutely lifelong, last at 
least as long as the life of the innocent party. 
This is the only Christian law on the subject of 
divorce, and ought to be the universal law of 
Christian civilizations. The fact of divorce ought 
to signify the one cause of divorce, then lawful 
separations for other causes deemed sufficient by 
the state could be so used as a police or pro- 
tective measure as to prevent those disastrous re- 
sults which are constantly accruing to the social 
body by the divorce habit. The Christian family 
proper is impossible with divorce in view. That 

The Church and the Home. 163 

view vitiates the fundamental notion of Christian 
marriage. With so unstable a foundation, it is 
impossible that the superstructure should be se- 
cure. Laws made for the accommodation of the 
lawless are a seminary of vice. Their influence 
is far-reaching into realms for which they are 
not by their terms intended. When the thought 
of divorce pervades a community, it disqualifies 
many young married people for that wholesome 
process of self-restraints, concessions, .and mutual 
helpfulness so necessary in order to the perfection 
of the estate ; it also disqualifies unmarried young 
people for a proper consideration of the relation, 
and they, therefore, enter it under fatal miscon- 
ceptions. But the chief burden of this kind of 
social order falls heaviest at last upon the most 
innocent of all, the children in the household; 
for while they themselves may become the bond 
which prevents an actual rupture and consequent 
destruction of the home, they are at best deprived 
of that security which is produced only by a thor- 
oughly Christian view of marriage and the home. 
A Christian family consists of a Christian fa- 

164 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

ther, a Christian mother, and of a child or chil- 
dren who are Christ's at first, and who may re- 
main his under proper guidance and culture. 

The conditions of a successful religious parent- 
hood are neither numerous nor complex. It is 
divinely so arranged in order that even parents 
with small gifts, meager acquisitions, and with 
most limited appointments, may yet exercise this 
triumphant influence without which all may go 

I. The first condition is that parents shall be 
what they seem ; and very closely allied with this 
is the matter of seeming what they are, or of 
making such an exhibit of what they believe and 
feel as that the children shall have a sufficiently 
clear and full revelation of the character of the 
parents. The sphinx is not a household figure. 

It is next to impossible to fool children. Their 
discernment is truly wonderful. Even infants 
can perceive the difference between the fussy pre- 
tender and the genuine lover of children. There 
is absolutely no sphere in which sincerity and a 
wise candor are more demanded than in dealing 

The Church and the Home. 165 

with childhood. As the possession of the con- 
fidence of children is necessary in order to a very 
large influence over them, the destruction of it 
by a lack of genuineness is fatal to all the high 
purposes of family life. Parents may prescribe 
for their children the best course of moral and 
religious conduct, and may for a time procure 
conformity to it, even when they themselves are 
not personally bound by it ; but in order to make 
discipline and instruction truly vital and of per- 
manent and of sure effect, there must be the ut- 
most sincerity and the fullest conformity to the 
demands of the law of righteousness. A deep and 
reverent love of all that is good and a rightly 
displayed aversion to all that is evil have within 
themselves an educational influence which it 
would be difficult to limit. But these qualities 
cannot be successfully feigned. 

2. A second condition is that the parents shall 
recognize their own place as one in relation to 
God. They hold their place by a divine order as 
expressed in nature, and this alone has led many 
untutored and heathen parents to seek for their 

166 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

children what was conceived to be the highest 
moral and religions good. But this is not enough, 
and is by no means all. The Christian parent 
who undertakes to work out the family problem 
from the standpoint of the merely natural, as a 
mere educational process, will fail to achieve the ■» 
highest end. The divine imperative must con- 
trol in the life of the parent and in his relations 
with the child. No father has the right of gov- 
ernment because he is stronger than the child, 
nor even because he is wiser. He derives it di- 
rectly from God first through the scheme of na- 
ture and then by direct ordination to a higher 
office than that of the parent. He is charged in 
a sense with priestly power, and is appointed to 
carry out a plan of religious development, the 
very processes of which are given in the law of 

3. A third condition is that the parents shall 
place a proper value upon the child. In so-called 
Christian homes there are millions of children 
with misshapen lives only because other things 
have been placed in the forefront while the chil- 

The Church and the Home. 167 

dren have suffered a fatal neglect through under- 
valuation. Whenever the claims of business or 
of society are allowed to have precedence, the 
ship drifts and breakers are often reached before 
they are even feared. The child in the home is 
above every other earthly interest, and only those 
who recognize this truth and feel the weight of it 
are safe guides. 

4. A fourth condition is that parents shall be 
watchful. God has set men in families in order 
that the household may have the support and pro- 
tection of one parent and the constant guardian- 
ship of the other. There are upbuilding proc- 
esses to go on within ; and there is the exclusion 
of hurtful forces from without. Neither of these 
ends can be fully accomplished except through the 
family, and only there when the parents are on 
the alert from the beginning to train the good 
and keep far the evil which seeks to enter. There 
are not a few parents who would take every pre- 
caution to protect a field of grain, making the 
fence, as the energetic and unequivocal language 
of an old law has it, "pig tight, horse high, and 

i68 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

bull strong/' who will without compunction allow 
the family fences to be broken down until the 
home field is trodden over and destroyed by the 
feet of aliens — strangers to the purposes for 
which alone the home has a right to exist. 

5. A final condition to be maintained is that of 
the companionship of parents and children. The 
term companionship as used in this relation must 
be taken with much care. First of all, it must not 
be understood to imply equality. Indeed, true 
companionship never implies equality as an essen- 
tial condition. In the relations of parents and 
children above all others must this notion be ex- 
cluded. We have seen parents who were claim- 
ing to make companions of their children, when 
in fact they were making them petty bosses, pert 
prigs, who had gotten only the notion of equality 
which ever and anon would pass into a sense of 
superiority, and thus show itself not only in the 
family relations but also in spheres beyond. This 
is not companionship. It does not even resemble 
it. The truest companionship may exist between 
a master and servant, between a teacher and pupil, 

The Church and the Home. 169 

but on both sides it rests upon a recognized su- 
periority of the one over the other. Christ the 
Infinite called his uncultured and slow-hearted 
disciples "friends"; and they had toward him a 
sense of fellowship which they placed above every 
other possession, even above life itself. Some of 
the finest companionships ever known among men 
were, found in the old South between masters and 
mistresses and their slaves. They rested on in- 
eradicable inequalities in many directions; but 
they rested on the sure foundation of respect, re- 
gard for great personal qualities, reverence, and 
a thoroughly inbred sense of the relations to be 
sustained. Companionship is not even a question 
of agreement in opinions, but an agreement of 
spirits. It follows, therefore, that there may be 
considerable intimacy of association without any 
true companionship. 

In the case of parents and children there should 
be a clear recognition of the superiority of the 
one and the proper subordination of the other. 
This recognition, however, needs to be one of 
sense and not of statute. Parents who regard the 

1 7° The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

fact that their children are born into rights which 
are as sacred as those of themselves will readily 
adjust all associations with an eye to the right de- 
velopment rather than the repression of their 
children, through the means of personal associa- 
tion with them. Children, on the other hand, will 
readily respond to this dignification of their lot 
and relations, and will constantly rejoice in the 
sense of an unfolding manhood and womanhood. 
They will thus be subject not to the law only of 
their parents, but to the whole range of their per- 
sonal influence and force of character. It is only 
in this way that parents can prevent a partial iso- 
lation of their children from them, and cut short 
.the many evil consequences which are likely to 
flow from such a position. It will also be found 
in every case that a rightly ordered companion- 
ship will deepen rather than destroy the reverence 
of children for their parents; indeed, there is no 
other means of so effectually inspiring and per- 
fecting it. 

The highest form of companionship has been 
described as the sharing of life. This implies the 

The Church and the Home. 171 

full, natural, hearty participation of all the mem- 
bers of the household in all the concerns of the 
family life. It means not only that the children 
shall be admitted into the fellowship of its work, 
but that parents shall enter sympathetically into 
its recreations and diversions. Otherwise it will 
be impossible for the parents and children proper- 
ly to understand each other, for the reason that 
it is only in the real and hearty engagements of 
life that a right understanding of personal qual- 
ities can be had. With such a companionship 
children grow up naturally and normally ; they 
are without prudish reserve ; they place their full 
confidence in their parents instead of unworthily 
bestowing it elsewhere ; they have a fuller sense of 
the honor of the home, and a truer love for it. In 
other words, they thus realize themselves as full 
members of the family, seek their chief enjoy- 
ments within it, and become subject to the influ- 
ence of their parents to a degree not possible by 
any other means. No matter, therefore, what 
parents may give their children in the way of op- 
portunities and equipments, they have fallen far 

17 2 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

short of giving their best unless they give withal 
their companionship, for this is in the best sense 
the gift of themselves. 

The family contribution to all forms of educa- 
tion is great and permanent. No man whose 
childhood has been passed in a home character- 
ized by ignorance and coarseness ever wholly re- 
covers from the effects. These evils, being in 
the atmosphere and breathed by the young life, 
become in a sense constitutional. Such persons 
may, it is true, become learned and establish cor- 
rect habits of thinking, but they will bear both 
scars and weaknesses from which there is no ab- 
solute recovery. In like manner the educated and 
refined home makes a correspondingly indelible 
impression for good upon the tone and quality of 
one's after intellectual life. The best grammar 
school is correct speech in the household, not only 
in the mere matter of speaking properly, but in 
the readiness and fullness with which the pupil 
grasps the philosophy of language and conforms 
to its demands. There is no trained teacher who 
cannot feel, through a sort of sensus vagus, the 

The Church and the Home. 173 

intellectual atmosphere which the pupil carries 
with him out of the home from which he comes. 

What is true of the influence of the home in or- 
dinary educational matters is more especially and 
extensively true in the development of religious 
character. The reason for this lies in the fact 
that many of the questions about which religious 
education is conversant are directly connected 
with all the real life relationships; so that looks, 
words, deeds are constantly contributing to the 
creation of the child's ideals, and above all are 
unconsciously determining what shall be its con- 
trolling spirit. 

In all this process nothing is of greater im- 
portance than what may be called the spirit of the 
family. There are many households in which a 
kind of religious order is kept up, but from which 
the outcome is by no means satisfactory. If a 
careful inquiry be made, it will probably be found 
that the so-called religious elements are killed in 
effect by the prevailing spirit of the household. 
It not infrequently happens that the religious life 
of the family is only nominal, while the worldly 

174 The Kingdom in the Cradle, 

spirit there is real and vital. On the other hand, 
it sometimes happens that the religious order is, 
in so far as performances go, exceedingly meager, 
and yet the prevailing spirit is genuine and true 
to religious principle. 

The spirit of the family is chiefly determined by 
the parents. Sometimes there is a conflict of spir- 
its, the father holding one way and the mother 
another. We have seen, for example, a family 
being reared by a sweet-spirited, courageous, de- 
voted mother, while the father's relation was 
rather that of a preferred boarder, and his pres- 
ence seemed largely to throw a chill into an at- 
mosphere of reverence and piety which the moth- 
er was giving her life to create. There are other 
cases where the father is a man of true devotion, 
and does all he can for the religious development 
of the children, while the mother is a worldly- 
minded, ambitious, scheming spirit, counteracting 
somewhat, if not wholly, the good influences of 
the father. There are still other cases where both 
parents are one in aim and spirit ; sometimes the 
wrong spirit, and sometimes the right. When 

The Church and the Home. 175 

both are wrong, then, almost of course, the family 
is wrong ; but when both are right, the family will 
almost certainly be a unit in the love and advance- 
ment of things that are good. It is of prime im- 
portance, therefore, that parents shall determine 
what is to be the prevailing spirit in the house- 
hold. It is needless to talk about any successful 
religious culture in a home where the dominant 
spirit is one of worldliness. It is almost impos- 
sible but that children nurtured in such an atmos- 
phere shall be selfish and worldly. They will 
from the outset breathe in a notion of life which 
will make it very difficult" for them in any school 
of after life to unlearn what the parents have so 
thoroughly taught. 

The ideal state is one in which both parents are 
truly religious, and so lade the atmosphere of the 
home life with cleanness of thought, loftiness of 
purpose, unselfishness of spirit, reverence for God 
and the things that are God's, love of man and 
love of truth, that it will be natural for the chil- 
dren to be of the same mind and follow in the 
same paths. Such a home is God's chosen field 

1 76 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

for the cultivation of those social and spiritual 
graces which make life beautiful and majestic, 
whether it be lived under the limitations of pov- 
erty and disease or amidst the splendors of a 
high social position. 

In almost every so-called Christian community 
there are to be found four classes of homes : those 
that are positively vicious ; those which are neg- 
lectful of all religious concerns; those which 
teach religion in an inadequate or wrong way; 
and those which may be designated truly as well- 
ordered religious households. As to parents who 
are clearly vicious or utterly neglectful of the 
religious welfare of their children, I have for the 
present only this to say : that the crime of bringing 
children into this world, which must of course be 
without their consent, and then using the almost 
irresistible influence of parenthood to pervert and 
wreck their moral life and destiny, is one so enor- 
mous and extraordinary that it stands in a cate- 
gory of its own. If it be true that it were better 
for one who offends (misleads) one of these little 
ones that a millstone were hanged about his neck 

The Church and the Home. 177 

and that he were cast into the depth of the sea, 
of what order of condemnation shall he be ac- 
counted worthy who leads his own dependent, 
trustful, imitative, helpless offspring into the dou- 
ble damnation of this life and of that which is to 

But there are many homes in which there is 
a somewhat fixed impression that the perform- 
ance of certain religious acts is due, and propiti- 
atory. There is, however, a divorcement of reli- 
gion from all things else — a kind of isolation 
which implies counter position. Religion is not 
like anything else, and is not vitally related to 
anything else. Thanks are given in tones and 
terms which are not only thankless but awe- 
inspiring. The Sabbath is made irksome, family 
devotions somber, and religious themes repellent 
to young life. This order of home has bred 
much infidelity and bad living on the part of 
those reared within it, and religion has had to bear 
the blame of this ignorance or folly. There is 
no need of this. It is partly due, perhaps, to a 
lack of insight and partly to a lack of true reli- 

178 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

gion. The Sabbath, when rightly understood and 
used in harmony with Christ's doctrine of it, can 
be made the happiest and most helpful day of all 
the week to a family of even robust and alert chil- 
dren. The Bible, in the hands of any man who 
can read fairly well and who is truly appreciative, 
can be made the most interesting book to be found 
in any household; while the subjection of all the 
affairs of life to the domination of a right reli- 
gious spirit, on the part of the parents, seasons all 
engagements with a salt that is felt to be saving, 
and in which young life loves to trust. Man loves 
to feel himself as being under the wings of the 
Infinite; and this is never more true than in the 
earlier stages of life, when the consciousness is 
wide open to the touch of influences which are 
none the less real because they are invisible. 

The well-ordered Christian home may be de- 
fined briefly as one in which both parents are truly 
religious ; in which there is a proper valuation of 
the child; in which the atmosphere is one of vital 
piety ; and where the methods of religious instruc- 
tion are adapted to the demands of child life. 





More than forty millions of babies come into 
the world every year. Despite their differences 
of size and complexion, they are in the main 
much alike. They are alike in their weakness 
and their wants. They are creatures of sensa- 
tion. They have a low form of consciousness, 
the seat of which is the stomach. They want 
something — they know not what; but they know 
when they get it, and let others know when they 
do not. Then in full satisfaction of this simple 
want they sleep and become refreshed for still 
larger demands until each seems to be a mere 
appetite wrapped in possibilities. 

Much as these tiny millions are alike, there is 
in each a point at which it becomes utterly unlike 
all the others. Each has its own individuality or 
selfhood. It has also a power of appeal to at 
least two persons which no other one of the mil- 


t82 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

i £> 

lions has. The parents of each babe recognize 
its peculiarity, and feel its superiority to all others 
of its kind. Parenthood is God's method of 
measuring out to man a true sense of the value 
of every child. The babe in the home is by no 
means humanity in the abstract. It is humanity 
especially relationed and positioned for having 
its true measure taken. This situation serves the 
double purpose of securing in the best way the 
sustenance and guardianship of the child itself 
and of creating a standard for the right valuation 
of all human beings. In saying this, I am assum- 
ing the presence of a civilized and considerate 
parenthood, which unfortunately in many cases 
does not exist. Indeed, the most humiliating re- 
flection connected with human existence is that 
so many of these little ones are doomed to come 
into this new, strange, hostile world as unwel- 
comed visitors. They are thus destined to a 
place of mere tolerance until by their only appeal, 
that of their helplessness, they win for them- 
selves a love which ought to have been poured 
upon them from the first with that divine lav- 

The Child in the Home. 183 

ishness with which the sunlight falls upon the 
flowers. If this were true exclusively, or even 
chiefly, of the children of illegitimate parents, it 
were bad enough ; but there are thousands of 
homes of competence, some of them homes of 
splendor, and not a few which are called Chris- 
tian homes, where the coming of children is re- 
garded as a calamity. The little ones are thus 
victimized by being born into homes where the 
atmospheres are chilling, if not positively hostile. 
Probably the greatest task of the Church of the 
future is to teach men the true doctrine of par- 
enthood, and thus to clear it of those savage ele- 
ments involved in the view of life just mentioned. 
After a little while the babe passes out of what 
seemed to be a merely physical life. The signs of 
intelligence begin to reveal themselves, and with 
this the problem deepens and the interest height- 
ens. Still each newcomer has everything to 
learn de novo. Each must learn for himself that 
fire burns, that pins stick, that there is some kind 
of definite relation between the tails of dogs and 
their mouths, of cats and their claws, that floors 

184 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

are hard, that even in the case of tender infants 
there is no exception to the law of gravitation, 
and that if they would get the mastery of their 
nurses and parents they must begin early. 

It may be presumed also that the parents, even 
though young and inexperienced, are likewise 
learning certain elementary lessons at this junc- 
ture, though as a rule they are not as apt as are 
the children. Among the things they are sup- 
posed to learn are these : that infants eat nothing 
except what others give them ; that being yet 
without speech they have no way of allowing 
their wants to become known except by restless- 
ness and fretting; that crying for lack of food 
or from pains which food or some other physical 
condition has caused, and the exhibition of some 
will power upon the strength and right direction 
of which the future manhood is to depend, are 
not signs of any inborn moral depravity. These 
things may, on the other hand, be often rightly 
interpreted as signs of carelessness or ignorance 
on the part of those who have the little ones in 
charge. But there is another lesson to be learned 

The Child in the Home. 185 

here or hereabout which is of the greatest im- 
portance, and that is, that a child, in following the 
impulses that arise out of its natural wants, may 
within the first few years of its existence gain 
a supremacy over its parents which, growing 
with its growth, may finally determine the order 
of its own life and largely that of the household. 
In many cases the child in that period enters upon 
a life of uncontrolled or undirected sensation, 
and follows it through to the end. There is a 
time-honored adage which says that those who 
rock the cradle rule the world. It is also true 
that those who rule the cradle rock the world. 
The time to provide for the right adjustment of 
grown-up life to the relations which it must take 
on is not after maturity, but in infancy and early 
childhood ; and the common mistake is not in be- 
ginning too early, but too late. 

With the dawn of intelligence comes the era 
of lisping and learning to talk, with all its vast 
significance — an era of danger, when the child 
becomes so interesting as a mere plaything that 
it is liable to be construed into nothing more se- 

1 86 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

rious or capable until it is too late fully to amend. 
It was upon this stage of child life that Victor 
Hugo seized to express his estimate of humanity. 
He says : "The most sublime psalm that can be 
heard on this earth is the lisping of a human soul 
from the lips of childhood. This confused mur- 
mur of thought, which is as yet only instinct, 
holds a strange, unreasoning appeal to eternal 
justice ; perchance it is a protest against life while 
standing on the threshold — a protest unconscious, 
yet heartrending. This ignorance smiling at in- 
finity lays upon all creation the burden of the 
destiny which shall be offered to this feeble, un- 
armed creature. If unhappiness comes, it seems 
like a betrayal of confidence. The babble of an 
infant is more and less than speech : it is not 
measured, and yet it is a song; not syllables, and 
yet a language — a murmur that began in heaven 
and will not finish on earth : it commenced before 
human birth, and will continue in the sphere 

A .little later comes the time for the beginning 
of what we call the education of the child. At 

The Child in the Home. 187 

the first only the A, B, Cs, and then follow the 
long years of school life, each as long to the 
child as a decade to a man. When one meets on 
the streets thousands of children and youth of all 
ages, each bearing his burden of books and other 
invisible burdens which only childhood knows, 
one is depressed with the reflection that each in- 
dividual of the present and the oncoming mil- 
lions must go through this same experience of 
books and desks, of confinement within walls 
and of discipline, of study often followed by pain- 
ful failure, of misunderstandings and reconcilia- 
tions, of groundless hopes and chilled ambitions, 
and of all the varied experiences that make up 
the history of childhood in school days. The 
child of the great scholar and the child of the 
unlettered artisan must start at the same point. 
The accumulated wisdom of the ages means much 
for the man, but little for the child. The little 
ones must go largely alone in climbing this hill. 
They have guides who tell them whither to go, 
and somewhat how, but the going is their own. 
No matter how wise and skilled the race becomes, 

88 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 


each individual of the race hegins at the bottom, 
and remains there or rises in proportion to his 
own efforts. 

All this process is said to be one of getting 
ready for life. In very truth, it is life. The life 
of every man, as measured in consciousness and 
remembered in after years, is lived more before 
he is twenty than afterwards, and especially in 
the first decade of it. 

Why this utter helplessness of the human off- 
spring at its birth? Why this long-continued 
weakness, this blank ignorance? Why this in- 
evitable toil of each individual up the slippery 
and tortuous path from the cradle to manhood? 
The answer in general is, that this is the realm 
of hope for the race. This is the sphere in which 
humanity is made. It is the clay period for all 
fashioning. It is a field in which to plant and 
cultivate whatever men would have to come to 
maturity and permanence. "And the house, 
when it was in building, was built of stone made 
ready before it was brought thither : so that there 
was neither hammer nor ax nor any tool of iron 

The Child in the Home. 189 

heard in the house, while it was in building." 
The conditions of human childhood are fixed as 
they are in order that away from the eye of the 
world, and with adverse influences shut out, par- 
ents may fashion their children according to a 
preferred pattern, and make them ready for their 
places in that greatest of temples, the Church of 

The prime object of the home is that it shall 
be a school of character; and of the Christian 
home, a school of Christian character. It is com- 
monly agreed among the foremost educators of 
the day that the true end of education is not 
knowing, but being; not knowledge, but charac- 
ter. The child is placed in the home to be de- 
veloped Godward. The task is a comparatively 
easy one when it is the main one. The funda- 
mental lesson in all Christian life is the love of 
God. All things in the situation of the child in 
a well-ordered Christian home conspire to make 
this greatest of truths the easiest of all to learn'. 
When Jesus began the typical prayer with those 
pregnant words, "Our Father," he practically 

190 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

solved the problem of household religion. The 
terms bind the parent, who uses them and teaches 
them, to be as much like God as possible; and 
they likewise lead the children, who at first prac- 
tically adore their parents, to an easy transition 
from an experience of the natural relations to a 
knowledge and sense of those which we call 
spiritual. The second great lesson of religion 
is, the love of man ; and how easily and beauti- 
fully do the home relations measure themselves 
out into community relations, and at last to those 
of the world ! From the love of God, as Creator, 
Protector, Giver of every good gift, comes love 
to God. And out of the love of man, that is the 
love of the parents revealed in a thousand ways, 
comes love to man, first in the family relations 
and afterwards in those of the community. On 
these two great commandments hang all the 
others, because the others have reference to du- 
ties which spring directly out of these two rela- 

When we turn from these two most fundamen- 
tal and comprehensive factors of religious char- 

The Child in the Home. 

St ° 


191 $r: 

acter to those more particular personal qualities £ 
which by common consent must enter into it, we £ 
find that they flourish in childhood as in no other ^ 
period. It is also notable that they then become 
rooted in habit as they cannot so well do at any 
other time of life, and thus gain a condition of 
thoroughness and permanence which it is other- 
wise impossible to obtain. 

Among these qualities are faith or trust, obe- 
dience, reverence, love of righteous approval, pen- 
itence for misdeeds, forgiveness, unselfishness as 
shown in a quick recognition of the rights of 
others and in the absence of self-consideration, 
prayerfulness within proper and natural limits, 
and a general spirit of willingness to be led. The 
occurrence of cases to the contrary of this, which 
are very distinct and sometimes most distressing, 
does not stand against what we have here enu- 
merated as the prevailing characteristics of the 
children in the home. 

Faith, for example, or trust as it may be more 
properly called, is wholly natural to the child. 
It seems as inborn as sight or hearing, and it 

192 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

grows normally and widens its sphere without 
shock if it be properly treated. It is safe to say 
that the child is incapable of unbelief or dis- 
trust until it has been taught the lesson of mis- 
trust by some one of riper years. This lesson is 
often taught by those who have no purpose to do 
so, but who act from lack of thought, or lack of 
knowledge as to the outcome. One of the most 
common ways of destroying the faith of children 
is by what may be called the hobgoblin method 
of discipline. Who has not heard of the cow 
that hooks, the dog that bites, the bear that tears, 
the lion that eats up bad children, as a means of 
discipline in even unimportant matters, when the 
same ends could have been as easily attained by 
means more rational and in every way more 
wholesome? Faith is also destroyed by parents 
who promise and threaten without fulfilling their 
words. If, on the contrary, the trust of the 
child is allowed to grow naturally without these 
shocks which are never necessary, it will come 
to the point at which a discrimination has to be 
made between things that are false and those that 

The Child in the Home. 193 

are true without any danger of being chilled, and 
a reasoning faith will follow easily the trust of 
infancy. It is really wonderful how faithful chil- 
dren are to the truth and how persistent in their 
trust when furnished, as they so often are, with 
the example of falsehood and deception by nurses 
and parents. 

While obedience is a more complex state even 
than that of trust, it likewise is natural and easily 
developed to a point at which it becomes the 
safety and strength of the child. In order to be 
successfully developed it must be made contin- 
uous from the very beginning, and should be but- 
tressed in as far as possible by an understanding 
of the reasons which underlie required courses 
of conduct. This discovery should, however, be 
left in a considerable measure to the child, for 
the reason, first, that the child's imperfect under- 
standing must not be allowed to stand in the place 
of positive authority; and, second, because the 
child's development will be largely advanced by 
his own study of the reasons which underlie the 
laws of conduct given by the parents, The habit 

194 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

of obedience will thus strengthen the disposition 
to obey in all literal ways until at even an early 
stage of life the child will act in obedience to 
what it conceives would be the parent's will in 
cases where it has not been, and for the present 
cannot be, expressed. 

As it is with faith and obedience, so it is in 
varying degrees with all the other qualities and 
states mentioned in the above enumeration. 

The child is placed in the home school under 
the conditions which we have mentioned for the 
purpose of being trained in character, of being 
brought to a state of independence fully prepared 
for a place in the broader spheres of social life. 
This being the case, there needs to be a careful 
surveillance of the subject of companionship in 
its two great fields of persons and books. The 
companionships of children and young people are 
so vitally related to their training, and to the out- 
come of the character which the home seeks to 
establish, that they stand in a place of importance 
which is next to extreme. Nothing more effect- 
ively reenforces the teachings of the home than 

The Child in the Home. 195 

associations with those of the same cult. On the 
other hand, nothing more surely negatives these 
teachings than an influential adverse companion- 
ship. It not infrequently happens that years of 
training are largely destroyed by a single bad 
associate. The guardianship of the child at this 
point becomes a most sacred duty, though some- 
times a most difficult one. The law announced 
by St. Paul, that evil communications corrupt 
good manners or morals, has not been abrogated 
and cannot be. It is laid in the nature of human 
society. If parents allow a current of evil, vital- 
ized by youthful confidence, admiration, and a 
close personal touch, to run counter to the stream 
of influence which arises in the family, they need 
not be surprised at the damaging results which 
follow. There is no pestiduct between a world 
of badness and a home of purity equal to that 
furnished in a bad but intimate personal com- 
panionship. In extreme cases the pursuance 
of the proper course for preventing such asso- 
ciations, even in the most considerate way, 
may result in the breaking of the relation 

196 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

between families; but the breaking of anything 
is better than the breaking of a human char- 

The companionship of books is very much like 
that which is personal. One bad book sometimes 
spoils a good boy ; one good book sometimes in- 
spires and determines a great life. We are of an 
age which is a reading age to an extent never 
known before. The reading habit is well-nigh 
universal. Paper-making and book-making are 
great commercial movements, and they are com- 
mercially aggressive. It is of their business to 
find the readers. The children and young people 
of every household will read something. What 
shall it be? It is easy for most parents to fur- 
nish the limited quantity of reading matter needed 
in the earlier years. A proper care at that point 
will lead to the establishment of a correct taste, 
and do more than all things to set the habit in 
the right direction. 

The development of these tendencies into es- 
tablished character can best be conducted only 
when due regard is had to the natural disposition 

The Child in the Home. 197 

of the child. A glance at these dispositions will 
be sufficient. 

1. In the first place, children are imitative. 
Much of what they learn in various lines is ac- 
quired through the action of this inherent tend- 
ency. The learning of our complex English 
tongue is a formidable task for a grown person 
who, born in another tongue, essays to master 
ours even to a point of speaking it fairly well. 
But children by sheer imitation get it with 
comparative ease ; and they imitate so well that 
if they have absolutely correct models in the home 
they attain thus their most accurate and inalien- 
able knowledge of grammar. Children show al- 
most as strong a tendency to imitate conduct, or 
action as they do language. Their play is largely 
made up of a mimicry of manhood and woman- 
hood. To-day they mimic without irreverence 
a prayer meeting or a missionary society; to- 
morrow a show passes through the community ; 
and the next day the prayer meeting which was 
appointed fails to occur, but in place of it a 
show is held with improvised appointments and 

198 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

with the true spirit of the showman. In the fam- 
ily circle this imitativeness is often seen in the 
smallest details, poses, gaits, and various man- 
nerisms ; and these movements often become in 
this way so habitual as to be ascribed to pure 
heredity. This disposition to imitate extends not 
only to physical performances, but to mental 
states and manifestations ; and it does not cease to 
exist with the first stages of conscious self-direc- 
tion, but abides, and with certain modifications, 
due to the growth of the faculties, becomes a con- 
siderable factor in determining the lives of young 
people when almost mature, sometimes when ful- 
ly so. No one can fail to see, therefore, that this 
inborn quality or tendency furnishes the best of 
all conditions for the establishment of habit, and 
especially of habit which is to result from ex- 

No discerning parent can fail to be deeply im- 
pressed when he sees his own boy stretching his 
tiny legs in an effort to place his feet in his fa- 
ther's footprints. This act may be performed in 
fun or seriously, in a field of snow or in the sand 

The Child in the Home. 199 

or dust of the street; but in any event it is the 
movement of a nascent manhood as it seeks to 
measure itself forward into full equality with the 
ideal or model which has gone before. So the 
mother, when she sees that not even a long dress 
made to order will be so acceptable to the little 
girl for "playing lady" in the nursery as is the 
cast-off skirt of the mother or grown-up sister, 
is in the midst of signals the warning of which 
should never be disregarded. These little ones, 
be it noted, are at last not so much engaged with 
the merely physical part of these performances 
as they are with ideals which are hovering just 
above, that is, with mental visions of the models 
which they are seeking to reproduce in their con- 

It is on this account that a well-ordered home 
in a refined community furnishes to the children 
a school of manners which is incomparable, one 
in which there is no need, or but little need, of 
any teaching aside from that which comes from 
example. The lessons are learned quietly and 
quickly under the impulse of imitation, and ripen 

200 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

into character through habitual observance. I 
make no apology for this close association of 
manners and character in the rearing of children. 
There is a much closer and more vital relation 
between manners and morals than most parents 
allow. There are cases, it is true, where the one 
is fair and the other foul ; but this is a species 
of genuine hypocrisy, and does not affect the 
rule. One of the most important functions of 
the home, therefore, is the inculcation of right 
views and habits in this regard. The habit of 
deference on the part of children, especially when 
it rests upon the example of parents, furnishes 
not only the conditions of pleasant and safe as- 
sociation in all social circles, but it gives a form 
within which the very spirit or quality of defer- 
ence will grow on through a lifetime. 

It has already been said that this imitation in 
children does not end with the age in which it is 
for a large part mere mimicry, but that with 
proper modifications in accord with age and sub- 
jects of thought it continues to maturit}/, or to 
the point of fixedness in the character type. It 

The Child in the Home. 201 

needs also to be said that it is by no means con- 
fined to the minor affairs of young life, such as 
plays, attitudes, manners, etc., but that it obtains 
also in all the more serious concerns of life, and 
in nothing more than in the forms and habits 
of religious devotion. On this account it is com- 
paratively easy for parents, by a simple and ear- 
nest performance of the duties of religion within 
the home, to establish in their children a habit of 
reverence for sacred things and of personal acts 
of devotion which will be found in after life to be 
one of the strongest safeguards against every 
form of nonreligious influence. 

2. Children are emulative. This is much more 
than being imitative. They are naturally in- 
clined toward an order of strife, which may be 
called the sense of competition. This quality is 
constantly revealed in their sports and in their 
work. It is at first a blind movement, the symp- 
tom of a latent power which in after life is to 
assert itself on every field of endeavor. This 
sense in children acts especially in the direction 
of things which their seniors regard as praise- 

202 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

worthy. When this tendency is led in the direc- 
tion of reverence, deference, and deeds of enno- 
bling service within the household and commu- 
nity, the natural desire for competition is gratified 
and at the same time fixed upon a religious and 
broadening line. A child, with similar treatment, 
is no more disposed to be out of the fashion or 
behindhand in noble acts than in dressing, and 
will be as much disposed to choose a good rather 
than an inferior model and competitor in the one 
case as in the other. A proper appeal to this 
endowment, one that soundly develops but does 
not overwork the quality, is always a legitimate 
one. The utmost care must be taken, however, 
so to restrain and direct this disposition as to 
prevent an overgrowth of it on the part of the 
more successful, and the discouragement of the 
hindmost. The overshadowed member of the 
family deserves vastly more consideration and 
attention than he usually receives. He is gen- 
erally liable to become the victim of an unre- 
strained emulation in the household. 

3. Children are necessarily active. They feel 

The Child in the Home. 203 

almost constantly the impulses of life and growth 
which are not known to grown people except 
through a faint memory. Children must, there- 
fore, be at something. If something good be 
given them to do, they will do it with a genuine 
relish. This sense of endeavor is responsible, in 
partnership with incompetent trainers, for much 
that is called badness in children and youth. 
Perhaps the finest point in family discipline is 
involved in the direction of the children's activ- 
ities. It requires some study, and sometimes 
real invention, but it repays for this trouble a 
hundred-fold. The usual substitute for this plan 
is what may be called the discipline of prohibition, 
or repression, a method which seeks the pre- 
vention of undesirable activities by forbidding 
them merely, instead of by rightly directing the 
irrepressible energies of childhood and youth. 
The right direction of these forces prevents idle- 
ness and discontent, and leads to the establish- 
ment of habits of order and diligence which are 
destined to go far in determining the success of 
the life. There is no situation so favorable to a 

204 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

normal religious development as one in which 
the whole life of the child and youth is taken up 
in the discharge of systematic and ennobling 
work. The home which fosters an idle and 
therefore aimless childhood is a seminary of false 
notions, and is destined to land those reared with- 
in it in a false if not a positively vicious life ; 
while, on the other hand, there is no natural 
foundation for a great and effective religious 
character in after life equal to that which is laid 
in the habit of a diligent, systematic, and well- 
directed use of the faculties in the days of child- 
hood and early youth. 

4. Children are by nature generous. The heart 
of almost every child is sympathetic, and, because 
of this quality, gives ready response to that which 
is noble and helpful. As it is generous in its 
sympathies, it is always ready to respond prompt- 
ly and freely to such situations as appeal to it. 
It is easy for children to be led to realize a 
larger pleasure in bestowing upon others than 
can be derived from the narrowing and painful 
habits of selfishness : and when once this enno- 

The Child in the Home. 205 

bling joy has become an established order in the 
life of the child, it is not likely to be destroyed 
by the chilling atmospheres of after life. In this 
way only can men be reliably prepared for an 
unselfish and helpful participation in the various 
demands made by Christian society upon the 
services of its members. The selfish household 
cannot send forth the generous and public-spir- 
ited citizen. 




Next to the home, and closely allied with it 
in the chain of agencies for religious education, 
is the Sunday school. 

It is not my purpose in this survey to under- 
take anything like an exhaustive treatment of 
Sunday-school work, and especially is it not my 
purpose to give any consideration to it in its 
merely technical aspects. This work has already 
been done by many skilled and painstaking writ- 
ers. The object is rather to give an estimate of 
the Sunday school from the view point of modern 
educational thought, and to show its proper place 
in the scheme of religious education. 

First of all, the modern Sunday school is a 
mammoth child of Divine Providence. The 
question as to who was the human founder of it 
14 (209) 

2io The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

has a relative but very inferior importance. It 
is perhaps enough to say that Robert Raikes, of 
Gloucester, was the founder of the first regular 
assemblies bearing this name, and having such 
continued existence as to be entitled to be called 
an institution. On the other hand, John Wesley, 
who quickly grasped the idea, and in harmony 
with his peculiar genius for godliness trans- 
formed the Sunday school into a purely religious 
institution embraced within the functions of the 
Church, was probably somewhat more the found- 
er of the Sunday school as we know it than was 
Robert Raikes. The fairest presentation of this 
historical question is to make it, not one of, 
Raikes or Wesley, but of, Raikes and Wesley. 
Raikes is the true historic founder of the modern 
Sunday school, as a mere fact. Wesley's inter- 
pretation and use of it were as new and original 
as Raikes's movement. Raikes's work was a first 
step in a process of induction; Wesley's was a 
generalization of the largest import. Raikes was 
as Newton observing the fact that the apple falls ; 
Wesley was as Newton noting a universal tend- 

The Sunday School. 211 

ency, and opening up the whole field of inquiry as 
to the data and laws of gravitation. 

Of the Sunday school as we have it neither 
Raikes nor Wesley nor any other man was the 
originator. Indeed, it would not be difficult to 
show that a number of men since that time have 
added single features which, for productiveness 
of large educational and religious effects, are 
greater now than the whole of the Sunday school 
was as it was known in the thought' and practice 
of Raikes and Wesley. It may be as well to 
utter here as elsewhere a truth which to some 
readers will seem at first sight ungracious, and 
that is, that one of the chief drawbacks to that 
large efficiency of which the Sunday school of 
to-day is capable, is that many who are in places 
of authority and responsibility in the Church are, 
in their estimate of present-day work, still fol- 
lowing an effete tradition — the tradition of the 
Sunday school as it was in the time of Raikes and 
Wesley. We are undergoing a regeneration at 
this point, but the birth is slow. 

It is impossible rightly to understand the place 

212 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

and work of the Sunday school in the scheme of 
religious education without at least a glance at 
two other spheres to which it is related. Much 
of the necessity for such an institution grows 
out of the failure of the home and of the day 
school to do a kind of religious work which lies 
clearly within their provinces. 

It is a hard saying, but the facts compel its 
acceptance, that religious education in the sense 
of anything like systematic instruction in the 
Holy Scriptures has almost gone from the homes 
of Christendom. There are very many religious 
parents who think that in a well-ordered Sunday 
school all the work of religious education neces- 
sary for the welfare of their children can be sat- 
isfactorily accomplished. There was never, per- 
haps, any error which had the semblance of truth 
in it that was as destructive. Nevertheless, it 
prevails to so great an extent that the work of 
religious instruction has been largely relegated 
from the home to the Sunday school. In the 
other sphere, that of the day school, a similar 
process has been going on until, in the Unit- 

The Sunday School. 213 

ed States religious education has been prac- 
tically abandoned there. Especially is this true 
of that form of education which roots itself di- 
rectly in the truths of the Bible, recognizing 
their divine imperative. We are worse off in 
this regard than most of the leading European 
nations. In France, for example, one day in 
each week is given as a holiday in which all pu- 
pils who desire it can be taught in the elements 
of religious truth. In England the Board 
schools, as their public schools are called, have 
incorporated in their course quite a good amount 
of religious instruction ; while in Germany the 
religious courses are a considerable part of pop- 
ular education. In our own country there is 
almost no religious instruction in the public 
schools, apart from the use of the Bible in the 
opening exercises. 

Religious education, thus largely abandoned or 
relegated on the home side, and omitted from the 
schools on various pleas from the other, finds its 
almost solitary field within the Sunday school. 
This fact has brought the Sunday school in 

214 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

America into a prominence and an importance 
which are causing it to receive quite a large share 
of attention, not only from the side of the Church- 
es within our domain, but from others who are 
studying our educational system. 

Monsieur F. Buisson, president of the French 
Commission to examine into primary education 
in America, says: "The Sunday school is not an 
accessory agency in the normal economy of 
American education; it does not add a super- 
fluity; it is an absolute necessity for the com- 
plete instruction of the child. Its aim is to fill 
by itself the complex mission which elsewhere 
is in large measure assigned to the family, 
the school, and the church. . . . All things 
unite to assign to this institution a grand part in 
the American life. Most diverse circumstances 
cooperate to give it an amplitude, a solidity, and 
a popularity which are quite unique. For de- 
nominational leaders, for those whom above all 
the interests of their Church preoccupy, the Sun- 
day school is preeminently the instrument of 

The Sunday School. 215 

Professor Emile de Laveleye, of Belgium, in 
his work on popular education says: "The Sun- 
day school is one of the strongest foundations of 
the republican institutions in the United States." 

The Sunday school, although a vast good, is 
not yet an unmitigated good. This is true chief- 
ly from conditions which exist outside of the 
school itself, and for which, therefore, the insti- 
tution is not primarily responsible. In so far, for 
example, as it is allowed to become a substitute 
for the home training of children, to take the 
place of the family school of religion, thus be- 
coming the occasion for the neglect or abandon- 
ment of parental instruction and guardianship in 
religious matters, it works evil rather than good. 
Such an exchange is very much like the exchange 
of a birthright for a mess of pottage. That such 
an abuse is being made of the Sunday school by 
many is scarcely a debatable proposition ; and 
the leading Sunday-school workers, those who 
intelligently recognize its true place and value, are 
the foremost to condemn and lament this misuse 
of it. They are the foremost also to grant that 

216 The Kingdom in the Cradl 

s i 

the Sunday school will have accomplished one 
among a number of great ends when it shall have 
so illustrated the value of the religious work done 
in the tender years of child life as will cause a 
large part of this training to be resumed within 
the home. In other words, that a proper Sun- 
day-school training will lead men back to the 
home as the place of supreme opportunity for the 
impartation of religious instruction and the estab- 
lishment of religious habits. 

When we come to consider the internal con- 
ditions of the Sunday school, we cannot but con- 
fess to the existence of serious defects which 
must be overcome in order that the institution 
may meet in anything like an adequate way the 
demands which the situation mentioned place 
upon it. In considering these defects it may be 
well to say, in advance, that while well-nigh uni- 
versal they are not unexceptionally so. There 
are already some schools in existence which are 
models indeed; that is, they are without any se- 
rious defects, or such as mar the main purpose 
of their creation. Moreover, none of the defects 

The Sunday School. 217 

of which I shall speak are ineradicable. They 
do not inhere in the nature of the institution, 
and from one school after another they are being 
gradually eliminated. It is still true, however, 
that they exist in so large a majority of schools 
as to call for the most thoroughgoing work of 
correction on the part of those having control. 

One of the chief defects of many Sunday 
schools is the lack of the right aim. Indeed, 
many of them seem to be without any definite aim 
at all. In either case the condition is really not 
so much due to the school itself as to the Church 
of which it is a projection and an expression. 
There are not a few parents who contribute their 
children to the numbers of the Sunday school who 
have no more definite estimate of it than that it 
is a good sort of police order by which children 
may be kept off the streets or out of other dan- 
gers and mischiefs for a part of the Sabbath, .and 
that if the children learn nothing really good 
there they will at least learn nothing bad. Oth- 
ers deem it a harmless and refining recreation, 
while others holding the right view of its func- 

2i8 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

tions are mostly distressed by a failure of it to 
accomplish those higher ends, and settle into an 
indifference born of discouragement. It is easy 
to see how utterly unwholesome such conditions 
are. The Sunday school, in truth, gets its right 
to exist from the Church of which it is a projec- ' 
tion. When rightly projected, it is an expres- 
sion of the Church's life at the growing point. 
Its aim ought, therefore, to be determined by 
the Church, and not left to the individual, or to 
the few. When rightly viewed, the Sunday 
school is a seminary of the Church, wherein the 
Church has its only opportunity of instructing its 
young life in the elements of religious knowledge 
and of training it in the habits of service. What- 
ever the Church may desire and expect of its 
members in their adult life ought to be inculcated 
in the Sunday-school life of the children and 
youth. It is not going too far to say that much of 
the lack of definite and correct aim on the part 
of the Sunday school is due to a state of indiffer- 
ence on the part of the Church. Indeed, it is not 
uncommon for church officials, who have ac- 

The Sunday School. 219 

cepted a place of responsibility for the welfare of 
the local church, to place upon one man, the 
superintendent, a supreme responsibility and then 
withdraw from him, never even so much as after- 
wards entering the Sunday school to see how 
the most important work under their administra- 
tion progresses. If, instead of this untoward 
state of things, there were back of every super- 
intendent and his school an official board that 
would lend the full force of its personal and 
official aid in the religious education of the chil- 
dren committed to its charge, all Christendom 
would thrill with a life and power of spiritual 
conquest which it has never known. The need of 
the hour is an aroused Church, one which shall 
place a proper value upon the child, and upon the 
fateful significance of those fleeting years in 
which, if at all, children must be prepared for 
taking their rightful places in the kingdom of 

Perhaps the chief defect or deficiency of the 
Sunday school is the lack of properly prepared 
teachers. It is easv to see that such a defect is 

220 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

very far-reaching, but just how far-reaching it 
is difficult to estimate. In schools of every form 
the teacher is, after all is said, the main thing. 
Whether a Sunday school, therefore, shall ac- 
complish the desired ends depends on the view 
the teachers take of their work, and upon their 
equipment for doing it in the right way. 

One of the most astonishing things in connec- 
tion with the modern Sunday-school movement 
is the absence for so long a time of any provision 
on the part of the Church for the preparation of 
its members for this greatest of its tasks. There 
have been from the start some good Sunday- 
school teachers, and there are now a few thou- 
sand who are not to be excelled in their equip- 
ment or method by the highest type of teachers 
to be found in the best graded schools, colleges, 
and universities of our day. But the number 
now engaged in Sunday-school teaching reaches 
a total of not less than two millions, and of these 
the great majority are wholly without that lim- 
ited but special equipment necessary to even a 
moderate success. Many, indeed, are lacking in 

The Sunday School. 221 

that general acquaintance with the truth to be 
dealt with which is an absolute requisite on the 
part of the lowest grade of secular teachers. It 
is not difficult to see that this state of general 
unpreparedness on the part of any considerable 
element of the Church membership has led, and 
must ever lead, to a choice of teachers more from 
the accidents of necessity than from the fitness of 
those chosen for the doing of this work. 

The responsibility for this state of things has 
rested and still rests with the Churches, and a 
failure to meet it has not been due so much to 
an inability to do so as to that state of indifference 
to which I have already alluded. 

The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was 
the first of the Churches to make definite and 
somewhat adequate provision for meeting the de- 
mand for trained Sunday-school teachers. In 
1 90 1 the Sunday School Board of this Church 
prepared a course of study, and a plan for oper- 
ating it. A man of the highest qualification for 
teacher training was placed in charge of the de- 
partment as Superintendent of Training Work. 

222 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

r t> 

After proper trial of the plan had been made, the 
General Conference of 1902 adopted it, and the 
Teachers' Study Circle was incorporated into the 
polity of the Church, and thus became one of its 
permanent institutions. The course of study is 
not an extensive one, but is especially adapted to 
the needs of the majority of the teachers. The 
same course has also been introduced into the 
schools themselves as an advanced course there, 
so that an ample number may before they leave 
the school to this extent be qualified for the work 
of teaching. On the completion of this course a 
diploma is given to all who pass the required 
standard. Since the organization of this move- 
ment some other denominations have taken steps 
in the same direction, while several theological 
schools and theological departments have estab- 
lished courses for the better preparation of pas- 
tors for dealing with the Sunday-school work. 
The light at last begins to break, and it is to be 
hoped that before very long the reproach and 
detriment of unqualified religious teachers shall 
have passed away, and that the pathetic story of 

The Sunday School. 223 

the individual teacher, struggling alone without 
the direction or sympathy of his Church, shall 
corne to an end. 

One of the chief incidental drawbacks to which 
the Sunday school of the past has been subjected 
has been that of church architecture. The old 
style church, many specimens of which still sur- 
vive, was suffused with an atmosphere of inhos- 
pitality toward children. Its construction and 
furnishing were a silent prohibition of childish 
presences except under penalties which affected 
more than one of the realms of feeling. Every 
such house said plainly that it was not made for 
children; that it was the place of grown people 
only. The doctrine thus preached through wood 
and stone has had a far-reaching influence, not 
only upon children, but upon grown people who, 
instead of rising in the tenderness and majesty of 
parenthood and abolishing such symbols of harsh- 
ness, have tamely submitted from generation to 
generation. It must now ever remain to our dis- 
credit that it was nearly two thousand years 
after Jesus folded the little ones in his arms be- 

224 The Kingdom in the Cradle, 

fore his Church made a comfortable bench for 
them to sit upon, or built houses of worship with 
the slightest reference to those of whom he said, 
"Suffer the little ones to come unto me." The 
majority of the church houses are still of this 
type, but they are rapidly passing away by the 
addition of convenient and comfortable quarters 
for the children, or, what is much better, are be- 
ing substituted by new churches which are built 
with large, if not primary, reference to the com- 
fort and instruction of children and young people. 
A new era has really come, for every child reared 
in these better houses of instruction and worship 
will become an apostle of the new and better or- 

But despite all the defects and deficiencies of 
the Sunday school, and the hindrances which 
have beset it, it has grown enormously, not only 
in externals, such as numbers and equipments, 
but in the extent and quality of the work done 
within it. In a century and a quarter it has 
grown from a handful of ragged and besotted 
children under four paid teachers into a multitude 

The Sunday School. 225 

of more than twenty-five millions of the flower of 
the race, including more than two millions of 
consecrated teachers, who are not only giving 
their services without money and without other 
reward, but are themselves among the chief 
financial supporters of the institution. 

Probably no one who has rightly measured the 
magnitude of the Sunday-school movement will 
dissent from the opinion that it is to-day the lar- 
gest factor in the religious forces of the world. 





There are certain conditions which are abso- 
lutely essential to a Sunday school, if it is to 
fulfill the mission which, as we have seen, is 
providentially assigned to it in the modern 
scheme of religious education. I shall discuss 
these briefly in what I consider to be the order 
of their importance. 

I. The first of these conditions is the Sunday- 
school pastor. I make no apology for placing 
this agency clearly above every other. It is a tru- 
ly awful thing for any man to be made an over- 
seer of the flock of Christ. Such a one becomes 
thereby the one man who is in a good sense 
wholly responsible for the spiritual welfare of 
the entire flock. In the case of the pastor who 
is right-minded and rightly equipped for his sa- 
cred office, there is a recognized authority and a 


230 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

power of direction which correspond with his 
responsibility. Probably no man is more plenip- 
otent in his rightful sphere than is the minister of 
the gospel. It follows hence that he may pro- 
cure through the laymen the doing of such work 
as he is unable to do from limitations of time 
and strength, and sometimes of natural abilities. 
Nothing works so favorably in securing all the 
ends to be attained in and by a congregation as 
a deep sense on the part of the pastor that he is 
solely responsible for those results. It does not 
mean, of course, that he is personally to under- 
take their achievement, but that he is to act the 
part of a wise and enthusiastic leader in all that 
needs to be done. 

What is the most important department of the 
Church for the accomplishment of the spiritual 
ends which the pastor is set to advance ? If this 
question were submitted to all the pastors of the 
nation, probably nine-tenths of them would vote 
the Sunday school to be this field. And yet there 
is reason to believe that there are not one-tenth 
of them who are acting as they vote. A truth is 

Successful Sunday-School Work. 231 

sometimes rolled about among the multitudes, 
and even among the classes to which it especially 
pertains, till it becomes indurated, so incrusted, 
indeed, as to be unable to germinate. Thus it 
seems to be in a large measure with this most 
important of the economic truths in the conduct 
of the modern Church. Many there are who in 
theory place the Sunday school foremost among 
the agencies of spiritual development; few there 
are who are making a corresponding use of it. 

In the first place, the pastor who does not 
rightly value the child cannot rightly value the 
man. And nothing is more fatal to the real 
work which justifies a preacher's place in the 
world than a false estimate of the humanity 
which he seeks to save. A low estimate of men is 
an invincible disqualification in a preacher of the 
gospel for which no affluence of gifts and attain- 
ments can atone. To correctly value the child is 
to be a lover of children. The pastor who does 
not love children needs to be converted, that is, 
he needs to turn round and become a child a^ain : 
it is no task for children to love one another. 

232 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

And it goes without the saying that where there 
is a genuine love it will work out its own proper 
forms of expression. This expression may be, 
and oftentimes is, an awkward one in the lover, 
the husband, the parent, the friend, the pastor; 
but wherever love is truly unfeigned, there is 
grace enough in the sentiment to make all need- 
ful amends for the manner of its revelation. It 
is better, of course, that it should have a refined, 
tactful, tasteful exhibit, but the one indispen- 
sable thing is the sentiment itself. 

Moreover, the pastor should never be ignorant 
of the fact that there is no highway of entrance 
into the hearts of parents like that which lies 
through the interests and hearts of their children. 
There is scarcely any exception to this rule, be- 
cause by the very scheme of nature a man must 
have become strangely abnormal who is not sub- 
ject to such an influence. Not only so, but love 
inspires love, and any community, even though it 
be but little inclined to spiritual things, knows 
that to have a man in public relations with it 
who is clean, high, enlightened, sympathetic, and 

Successful Sunday-School Work. 233 

strong, toward whom the hearts of the children 
turn as by the power of a lodestone, is a circum- 
stance of great value. Men feel this to be true 
oftentimes when they do not articulate it even to 

But in order to love the children a pastor must 
first know them. One of the profoundest hints 
in our Saviour's characterization of himself as 
the Good Shepherd is contained in the statement 
that "the Shepherd calleth his own sheep by 
name." The name itself is a matter of no small 
importance to him who has it. But the deeper 
meaning of this passage is that the Shepherd 
knows his sheep intimately and feels a deep 
personal interest in them. The pastor who 
knows the children of his charge only in the 
Sunday school will not know them very well 
there. He needs to know them in the household, 
and not their names only, but their qualities. 
This is not as difficult a matter as it would seem, 
provided it be gone about in the right way. Par- 
ents are always willing to talk of their children, 
even to the point of revealing their worse or 

234 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

weaker qualities, and especially to one who has a 
genuine interest in them, and who is willing to 
help in their right development. 

But whatever may be the pastor's relations to 
the children of his charge within their homes, 
his chief opportunity in two most vital directions 
lies within the Sunday school itself. I refer to 
the evangelical and educational functions of the 
school and the pastor's relation to both. It is 
not going too far to say that this most fruitful 
source of evangelism is the most neglected by 
pastors. This neglect is too general to be wholly 
a matter of accident or oversight. If the pas- 
tors who are guilty of it would have the candor 
to inquire fully into the cause of it, they would 
probably find it in a lurking, hard-shell infidelity 
as to the fitness of children for membership in 
the kingdom of God. When at the core of the 
situation there is a deadly unbelief like this, it 
is no wonder that the Sunday school fails to ac- 
complish its chief aim. He who has even a 
lingering doubt as to whether or not the devil has 
any vested rights in the childhood of the race 

Successful Sunday-School Work. 235 

because of Adam's fall, who does not recognize 
Christ's distinctly asserted claim in them, is un- 
der a fatal disqualification for dealing with the 
religious interests of children. But if the pastor 
sincerely believes the doctrine that Christ has a 
kingdom already within the cradle, and recog- 
nizes that the chief work of parents, teachers, and 
pastors is to keep them in the kingdom and de- 
velop them there, the Sunday school furnishes 
the best of all opportunities for that kind of 
evangelism which is adapted to the securing of 
their salvation. There are to-day millions of 
children in the homes of Christendom, and stand- 
ing near the altars of the Church, who would 
gladly enter if they could. Their attitude is one 
which continually says to their seniors and guides, 
What lack we yet? And what answer can these 
guides give that would be accepted in heaven, 
or on earth? This answer, whatever it may be, 
certainly cannot be that the children lack faith. 
The purest faith in the world is in the child 
heart. An unbelieving child is a monstrosity, 
and one almost never met with in the world. 

236 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

And the very finest of their faith is that which 
they have in God and in the realities of the spir- 
itual world. Indeed, these same guides, when 
they come to tell a grown person how to enter 
the kingdom, tell him that he must have faith, a 
faith that trusts like that of a little child. This 
answer certainly cannot deny that children have 
humility and a consequent willingness to be led. 
Here again they make this same neglected child 
the model for the grown-up man. But what 
about repentance? Surely no other age is equal 
to childhood in genuine sorrow for a known 
transgression, and none so quick to reform or 
abstain. It is true that it is very difficult for 
children to repent of a sin which they know they 
have not committed, as some seek to have them 
do. But within the range demanded of adult 
seekers after God the penitence of children is the 
purest known. If it be said that children who 
give themselves to Christ at so tender an age can- 
not when grown remember the experiences of 
that hour, cannot remember that they were born 
again, we answer, Neither can they remember 

Successful Sunday-School Work. 237 

when they were born the first time ; the only evi- 
dence of their having been born at all is the life 
that is in them. So it is with the Christian; the 
less he depends upon the memories of a certain 
hour as the proof of being alive in Christ, and 
the more he finds these evidences in the life he 
now has, the better it is. 

To the pastor who sincerely believes in child- 
hood religion, the Sunday school offers every 
possible opportunity for advancing it. The pas- 
tor has fifty-two occasions in each year, any or 
all of which he may use in harmony with his best 
judgment. If he be wise, he will have a definite 
plan of movement running throughout the year 
and embracing both instruction and proper per- 
suasion. He will also occasionally instruct the 
pupils in classes, apart from the Sunday-school 
session, according to age and need, and thus pre- 
pare them first for intelligent Church member- 
ship, and afterwards for growth in all the ele- 
ments of religious character. All the work of the 
school ought, indeed, to lead up to the work of 
the pastor for evangelical ends. The very object 

238 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

of its existence is the complete salvation of the 

But there is another function belonging to the 
pastor which everywhere requires fuller recogni- 
tion. I refer to his directorship of the educa- 
tional work of the school. In the present order 
of Sunday-school provision this agency on his 
part is indispensable. The pastor must be the 
teacher of his teachers. By common consent the 
supreme need of the Sunday school is teachers 
who can really teach. Most churches have thus far 
made no provision for their equipment, or next 
to none, and especially while this state of things 
continues must the pastor take upon himself and 
his local assistants the labor of securing at least 
a fair preparation of teachers for their work. A 
clear understanding on the part of the pastor 
himself of the sacredness and far-reaching im- 
portance of the teacher's work will go very far 
toward enabling him to inspire his teachers with 
the right view of their work, which when they 
once have they will be eager to follow his lead. 
The holding of the ordinary teachers' meeting 

Successful Sunday-School Work. 239 

for the preparation of the weekly lesson is not 
enough, although even this would be an immense 
gain in most schools. The real need is for the 
study of a teachers' course. It need not be large, 
but it ought to be vital; that is, it ought to deal 
with the art of presenting the truth as well as 
with a well-arranged knowledge of the book to be 
taught. There are numerous small books, two or 
three of which properly mastered would trans- 
form the teaching work of most of the schools. 
If the Church to which the school belongs has 
prepared such a course, the way of the pastor is 
made easy. He is reenforced by the judgment 
of his Church as to the scope and actual subject- 
matter which are deemed a reasonable prepara- 
tion of the teachers. If no such work has been 
prescribed by the Church, then it devolves wholly 
upon the pastor, and his task consists first of de- 
termining what books are best suited to the needs 
of his own group of teachers. Any pastor who 
lacks knowledge for the selection of such a course 
can easily obtain the help he needs from the head 
of the Sunday-school department of any of the 

240 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

Protestant Churches. The pastor who is not 
willing to do this much to help the teachers, who 
are without reward teaching the children and 
young people of his congregation in the word of 
eternal life, presents the appearance of one who 
sleeps. If he should decline to do this work on 
the ground that he is too busy with more im- 
portant work, he will cause thoughtful men to 
wonder what on earth he can be doing. This is 
a popular plea for this very neglect, but on close 
scrutiny it w 7 ill be found to be only as reasonable 
as it would be for the farmer to answer the cries 
of his children for bread with the apology that 
at planting time he was too busy with other 
things about the farm to sow the wheat or plant 
the corn. Of course, if the pastor can get some 
other well-qualified person to do this work it will 
relieve him of the actual labor, and may work 
just as well in results. 

2. Next to the preacher in the scale of respon- 
sibility stands the superintendent, a new creation 
in the economy of the modern Church, and one 
of very great value and importance. It is prob- 

Successful Sunday-School Work. 241 

able that in most sections the Church has not thus 
far realized of how great value this new order of 
worker is, and how truly indispensable to the 
right growth of the Church under its modern 
order. Any community which has in it an in- 
telligent, diligent, exemplary, and competent man 
who is willing to take in hand and guide through 
the years the children and youth of the commu- 
nity, in a well-planned effort to teach them in the 
divine oracles and train them in the habits of reli- 
gious life, and as workers in the Church, pos- 
sesses in such person an element of inestimable 
value. When we regard the fact that the office 
involves large labor and delicate responsibilities, 
and is yet without remuneration, and is often ex- 
ecuted in the face of many unnecessary limita- 
tions and even antagonisms, the readiness of so 
large a number of laymen to do this work is one 
of the most striking indications of the strength 
and efficiency of the laity of the Church of Christ. 
The least that any community can do fairly in 
response to the efforts of such a man is to re- 
move as far as possible all obstacles and furnish 

242 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

all necessary means, both personal and material, 
for the achievement of the ends for which the 
superintendent labors. The office of Sunday- 
school superintendent, while not expressly pro- 
vided for in the gifts of the apostolic Church, has 
so clearly proved itself to be a providential de- 
velopment out of the life of Christianity that it 
will probably abide as long as the office of pas- 
tor abides, and should have all proper honor 
placed upon it by the Church. 

The first qualification of the superintendent is 
that he shall be a spiritually-minded man who 
accepts and holds his place for the one purpose 
of helping souls. He needs also, if possible, to 
have the power of clear and direct speech (but 
not too much speech). He needs also to have 
some powers of organization, inasmuch as ev- 
ery well-ordered school requires a considerable 
amount of this kind of work. The superintend- 
ent is, in several important respects, the pastor's 
chief helper. He is the second element in a proc- 
ess which reaches from the pastor of the church 
to the children in the school. His function is, 

Successful Sunday-School Work. 243 

therefore, largely pastoral. Indeed, the best of 
all assistant pastors is a first-class superintendent. 
The pastor and superintendent acting together 
should determine the policy of the school, select 
the teachers, organize classes, and supervise the 
whole of the teaching work. The superintend- 
ent's work is by no means confined to the school 
room, but under right conditions it soon becomes 
on the outside commensurate with the pastoral 
charge, sometimes going even beyond it. 

3. If the Sunday school is to accomplish the 
work which by common consent has been as- 
signed to it in the thought and organization of 
the modern Church, it must be made truly educa- 
tional in its aims and methods. There is noth- 
ing which men more need to hold with a deep 
rational certitude than the faith upon which the 
moral inspiration of their lives and their final 
destinies depend. For the Church to undertake 
to teach its children and youth in the oracles of 
God, and then to do this in a bungling and inade- 
quate way, especially in a way which violates or 
disregards the fundamental principles of all true 

244 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

education, is an order which has in it a savor of 
death unto death. If the children and youth of the 
nation who are five days in the week under teach- 
ers in the secular schools who are well acquainted 
with the whole round of data to be handled, and 
well versed in the fundamental laws of teaching, 
so as to inspire and lead the pupil into a realiza- 
tion and use of his own powers of acquisition 
and discovery, are turned over on the Sabbath 
to be taught by teachers who plainly lack a knowl- 
edge of the matter to be taught and who proceed 
in violation of every known law of teaching, as 
is often the case, what effect is this contrast like- 
ly to have on the mind and character of the 
thoughtful student? Is it not likely at the very 
least to cause him to hold both the book upon 
which his religious faith rests and the day on 
which it is taught with a sort of apologetic ten- 

It is not according to the scope of my purpose 
to enter into details on this question, but a few 
general suggestions may be of some service. All 
the main issues are involved in two points. The 

Successful Sunday-School Work. 245 

first is the plan of the school, and the second is 
the teacher. It seems the merest commonplace 
to say that the plan of the school shall be a care- 
fully graded one. There is some prejudice 
against this order based on a misapprehension of 
its meaning. The grading of a Bible school after 
the exact meaning of grading a grammar school, 
the latter having thirty or more hours a week, and 
the former less than one, and that with a vaster 
amount of material to be handled, is not possible. 
But this is not the meaning of the proposal. Ev- 
ery good school of any kind must be graded. 
Proper grading is merely the adaptation of the 
truth to be taught, and the method of teaching it, 
to the age and other conditions of qualification 
on the part of the pupil for receiving it. 

Under the present order most of the grading 
to be done is in the proper classification of the 
pupils, and the remainder must be left very large- 
ly to the teacher. When I say under the present 
order, I mean under the system of lessons pro- 
vided by the International Uniform Lesson Plan. 
When this plan of one lesson for all grades was 

246 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

adopted, it was doubtless the best thing that could 
be done for various reasons which need not here 
be stated. But from the educational standpoint 
it was never the ideal plan, and with the growth 
of educational thought is becoming constantly 
further from meeting the demands as they ought 
to be met. A uniform lesson in the sense of the 
same lesson for every school is so good and rea- 
sonable a plan, and has in it so many incidental 
advantages, that it will probably abide and grow 
stronger for an indefinite period of time. But 
the doctrine of one lesson for all ages of life and 
stages of development seems to be unnatural, un- 
pedagogical, and is even now unstable in its hold 
upon the sympathies of educators. Its availabil- 
ity for the best results depends so much upon the 
gifts and the work of the individual teacher that 
in the present state of unpreparedness on the part 
of teachers the results desired are not being ob- 
tained as they might be under a different order. 
A proper adjustment lies easily within the do- 
main of the International Convention, and steps 
have already been taken by it which look in the 

Successful Sunday-School Work. 247 

direction of the improvement of plans at this 

There are but few subjects which have received 
larger or more intelligent attention within the 
last decade than has that of what constitutes the 
true aim of religious education and how to attain 
it. This study has embraced a large realm, in- 
cluding the subject-matter, the order of its pres- 
entation, the grading of teachers and pupils, the 
methods of instruction, and the end to be reached. 

Among the numerous writers who have brought 
large scholarship and experience to bear in the 
solution of these essential problems of religious 
education are Professors Haslett, 1 Du Bois, 2 
Pease, 3 Burton and Matthews, 4 and Coe. 5 These 
writers have approached the subject, each from 
his own standpoint, but together they have fur- 
nished a volume of information and suggestion 
which cannot but deeply affect the future work of 
the Bible school, both in the home and the Church. 

i"The Pedagogical Bible School." 2«The Natural 
Way." 3 "An outline of a Bible School Curriculum." 
4 " Principles and Ideals for the Sunday School." 5 " Edu- 
cation in Religion and Morals." 





Religious education bears a more marked re- 
semblance to industrial education than it does 
to any other form. There is in both such a 
relation between knowing and doing as renders 
the one imperfect without the other. As, for 
example, no amount of mere instruction can with- 
out practice prepare a builder for executing the 
plans of an architect, so no amount of knowl- 
edge about goodness can make a man a Chris- 
tian. There must in both cases be such practice 
as will make the knowledge to become vital in ac- 
tion. Knowledge thus used will lead to skill, and 
skill will in turn bring a fullness of knowledge. 
When Jesus said that if any man would do the 
will of his Father he should know of the doctrine, 
he by implication closed the way to that sacred 
knowledge to all those who should seek it for any 


252 The Kingdom in the Cradl 

less end than to put it into practice in experience 
and conduct. Hence it is that not a few scholars 
run mad after mere knowledge are unsafe guides 
as to the deeper meaning of the Holy Scriptures. 
They sometimes know less about this than do the 
common people who have gone no further than 
plainly to read and then devoutly practice the 
truth, and have thus discerned the mind of the 
Spirit. It is in view of this principle that one 
of the most important functions of the Sunday 
school is a work of training. There are four 
distinct yet closely related spheres in which this 
work should be carried on. 

1. The first of these is training in knowledge. 
There is a vast difference between understanding 
a thing and knowing it. Especially with children, 
it is not enough that they get a clear view of a 
truth. It is necessary that they be properly 
drilled. The methods of the old drill-master 
need to be restored in a good measure to the 
Sunday schools. In suggesting this I do not 
mean that the order prescribed by a sound ped- 
agogy should be violated. But rather that when 

A Field of Training. 253 

the truth adapted to any given state of develop- 
ment and attainment is reached, there ought to 
be such drilling in that truth as to make it a 
definite and inalienable possession of the pupil's 
mind. The wonderful stories which we some- 
times see of the ignorance of the Bible on the part 
of the young people of our day are only too true, 
but that condition is not due so much to the fact 
that they have not been taught in the sacred 
Scriptures as to the inadequate way in which 
they have been taught. If the children and young 
people were required to do more memory work, 
and also more original or personal work, they 
would retain what they learn, and thus the knowl- 
edge obtained in the usual Sunday-school course 
would be valuable as an attainment. An excel- 
lent exercise in drilling is to hold frequent, short 
reviews, to cultivate in the pupil the habit not 
only of retaining his knowledge but of having it 
at ready command. The quarterly review for the 
school is well enough, but the teacher who does 
not introduce much of review work along with 
the weekly recitation misses one of the best op- 

254 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

portunities for confirming the pupil's knowledge. 
Still another help of great value is to have one or 
two pupils write a short essay on a previous les- 
son for the purpose of expressing in it the knowl- 
edge acquired in the class, with the understanding 
that all the other pupils are to criticise, giving 
their approval or dissent. There are many other 
forms of drill such as drawings, constructions, 
recitations, etc., which teachers are using for mak- 
ing the knowledge of the pupils both accurate and 
permanent. It will be found, of course, that one 
form of expression will be without interest to 
certain pupils while another form will be of ab- 
sorbing interest. It belongs to the teacher to 
observe these peculiarities of taste and to give 
them proper direction. 

2. The second sphere of training is that of 
religious experience. To the religious emotion- 
alist this may seem a cold and unworthy view, 
but even a brief survey of the subject will make 
my meaning clear. We do not hesitate to allow 
that the development of the sentiments and even 
emotions in other directions than the religious is 

A Field of Training. 255 

in keeping with a sound psychology. Especially 
is this true of what we commonly call moods 
which are more or less permanent states of feel- 
ing. The influence of the will in all such mat- 
ters is so far-reaching that it is difficult to deter- 
mine its real extent. That the will determines in 
favor of that which is seen to be the best, and 
leads to it as a permanent state of the affectional 
nature, does not vitiate the genuineness of the 
product as seen in states of sentiment and charac- 
ter. Our religious experiences are much more a 
matter of training than we are accustomed to be- 
lieve. It is more on this account than any other 
that such experiences vary so widely in different 
ages, communities, and denominations. The at- 
titude of the mind has much to do in deter- 
mining their character, their intensity, and their 
duration or permanence. It is here very much as 
it is in the social life of men. In one family we 
are chilled by the absence of any satisfactory 
signs of affection, and of those peculiar enjoy- 
ments which cannot exist without it. In another, 
the atmosphere of the household is redolent of 

256 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

this beautiful spirit, and all the manners and 
conversation of the family are further means of 
its expression. The difference is very largely a 
matter of training rather than of native qualities. 
The same thing is true in the larger social rela- 
tions of the community. When we come into the 
realm of religious life, we find no exception to this 
rule. The giving of thanks at the table furnishes 
to children the proper forms for the expression 
of gratitude, leads to thought upon the source 
of our blessings, and thus develops the sentiment 
of thankfulness. Especially is this true if it be 
done in terms that are clear, hearty, and fresh, 
so as not to become a meaningless commonplace. 
Likewise in family devotions the attitude and 
terms of reverence lead to the development of a 
reverent and worshipful spirit which easily grows 
into a permanent sentiment. 

But the child must sooner or later pass out of 
these home relations into the more public rela- 
tions of the Church and the religious community, 
where the religious sentiments are to be still 
further molded, and in a sense enlarged. Two 

A Field of Training. 257 

questions of great practical import arise at this 
point. One is as to the proper age for a formal 
attachment of the child to the Church, and the 
other as to the best way in general for bringing 
this about. As to the first question, I would 
suggest that the age of twelve has been found 
to be a most suitable time. In the Jewish Church 
of a former day the age was about fourteen. 
This does not mean that there are not many cases 
in which this important step may be taken at a 
considerably earlier stage. It is only intended to 
suggest what will be found to work satisfactorily 
as a general rule. As to the best way of effecting 
this induction into the larger sphere, I would say 
that nothing better has been tried than what is 
called Decision Day. 

In a small publication 1 on this subject about 
three years ago I took occasion to express regret 
that so important and valuable an occasion had 
been set forth under so unfortunate a name. It 
is, indeed, a misnomer; for if the occasion were 

1 "Decision Day," by Atkins and Hamill. 


258 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

truly a Decision Day it would be liable to a num- 
ber of objections which have been urged against 
it on that ground. It would be much more in 
line with the real meaning of the occasion to call 
it Announcement Day, or Commitment Day, for 
this is in truth what it is when rightly conducted. 
In order that the day may accomplish the 
best results, there are several conditions which 
need to be present. ( 1 ) The day itself should be 
made a rightly solemn and impressive occasion. 
Enough time should be taken from the school 
session to allow the service to be full and orderly. 
The service should consist of the reading of those 
Scriptures having special reference to children 
and their relations to God ; and of songs especially 
chosen beforehand, and of prayer, and an in- 
structive and persuasive talk. In other words, 
it should be made a truly instructive and evan- 
gelistic service. (2) The occasion should in- 
clude the whole school, embracing even the pri- 
mary department. It ought to be a special occa- 
sion for the coming together of the members of 
the Home Department with the regular school. 

A Field of Training. 259 

The invitation to this Commitment should not be 
limited to the age mentioned or to the class es- 
pecially prepared by previous training, but should 
the rather be of the broadest scope. One of the 
most interesting occasions of this kind ever wit- 
nessed by the writer was one on which fifty-six 
persons were taken into the Church from the 
Sunday school, and the company embraced per- 
sons all the way from bright girls of seven up to 
a gray-haired man of more than threescore. (3) 
The pastor, the teachers, and the parents should 
do a large amount of preliminary work. When 
the list of eligible members of the school has been 
made out by the teachers' meeting, or, if there be 
no teachers' meeting, by the pastor and superin- 
tendent, each teacher should be furnished with 
the names of those in his or her class so that 
special attention may be given them and spe- 
cial prayer be made for and with them. The 
parents should also be informed as to the nature 
of the work proposed, and their cooperation 
asked. It is well then for the pastor, as is now 
the custom with not a few, to have all these chil- 

260 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 


dren in a class to be especially instructed in the 
nature and claims of personal religion, until they 
have been led, if possible, into a satisfactory reli- 
gious experience. By all means, those who do 
not reach this state before Commitment Day 
ought to be continuously guided afterwards until 
they do so. Herein truly is the best opportunity 
for effective pastoral evangelism ever afforded in 
the history of the Church. 

It is easy to see that from a Commitment Day 
thus conducted two excellent results will be 
reached, apart from those which accrue directly 
to those making the committal, (i) It will pre- 
vent the occasion from becoming an incitement 
to mere spurts of enthusiasm, unsustained by in- 
struction and a fixed purpose. (2) It will cause 
the children who are under the age mentioned to 
look forward to it as a time at which they may 
also give similar expression to their religious 
impulses, and will thus influence the use of the 
religious teaching given them and also their con- 
duct in the home and school relations. 

As to the children who in this way publicly 

A Field of Training. 261 

commit themselves to a life of religious service, 
it puts them into line for a course of instruction 
by the pastor, teachers, and parents which more 
than anything else will make them realize what is 
the supreme aim in all our Sunday-school work. 
This will lead to a more intelligent and effective 
use of their opportunities, and will in every way 
tend directly to the development of a religious 

The exercises of Commitment Day should lead 
immediately to Church membership. There are 
some who question the wisdom of taking children 
into full membership at an early age. The 
grounds of objection do not seem to me to be 
sound in any particular. All the reasons for 
Church membership are eminently present in the 
case of children of the ages and conditions of 
which I have been speaking. The intelligent, 
voluntary assumption of the vows of conduct and 
service, the coming thereby into conscious and 
active relations with the broader religious com- 
munity, the use of the holy sacrament, the reg- 
ular performance of the simple acts of private 

262 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

devotion, the fixing of social relations largely 
within a circle of people like-minded, a proper 
study of the polity and purpose of the Church, 
etc., are conditions which foster as nothing else 
can the growth of spiritual life. They are all 
truly educational in the double sense of prevent- 
ing the growth of untoward conditions and rela- 
tions, and in directly developing those character- 
istics and habits of life which the Church seeks 
to promote. 

There are not a few who fear that this order 
tends to the induction into the Church and the 
retention there of large numbers of unconverted 
people. This view seems to be made up without 
proper regard for the facts and influences which 
are necessarily involved. First of all, the chief 
part which human agency plays in matters of 
religious experience is in the production of the 
right attitude on the part of the individual as the 
receiver of the divine communications. The hu- 
man heart in its relations to the divine grace is 
very much as a temple which stands bathed in the 
sunlight. So long as the temple doors and win- 

A Field of Training. 263 

clows are closed, there is of course darkness ; but 
whenever they are opened, and in proportion as 
they are opened, the light enters and floods the 
spaces. Likewise when men at any age open 
the heart Godward there is no arbitrary delay. 
It is then that the supernatural forces of the 
religion of Christ enter and accomplish the work 
to which they are destined in the divine scheme 
of recovery and salvation. If it be assumed that 
there are some who enter the Church and remain 
in it for a shorter or longer period without any 
experiential knowledge of their acceptance with 
God, such seem still to be in the best situation 
for being finally led into the light. Surely if 
the Church is, as we believe, the chief instru- 
mentality through which God elects to communi- 
cate saving grace to men ; if its members consti- 
tute the only aristocracy of virtue known in the 
world, that is, are a community in which the 
dominant condition of association is the posses-- 
sion of Christian character; if there alone are 
to be found the best instruction in religious truth 
and the highest incitement to a pure and sur- 

264 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

rendered life, it cannot but be the best place for 
any who is a sincere seeker of salvation. To as- 
sume that to continue on the outside, in the at- 
mosphere of the world, and in associations which 
to say the least do not tend to religion, could 
constitute a more wholesome and favoring situa- 
tion for one who truly desires to lead a religious 
and dutiful life than is afforded by the Church, 
seems violent if not irrational. The one object 
of the existence of the Church is the saving of 
men in all the varied senses of that term. It is 
on this account the chosen sphere of the Holy 
Spirit for using the word of God and all other 
agencies assembled there, for producing first peni- 
tence and faith, and afterwards all the fruits of a 
complete religious character. 

3. There must be training in giving. Genuine 
benevolence usually takes two active forms, giv- 
ing and service. The latter of these will be con- 
sidered in the next section. The New Testa- 
ment doctrine concerning all forms of possession 
is that of stewardship. Children may be taught 
this doctrine easily if it be gone about in a natural 

A Field of Training. 265 

way. The opportunity for this kind of teaching 
is ever present to the parent or teacher who has 
even ordinary impressibility by the situations of 
common life. Indeed, one must be unusually dull 
not to discover a wealth of opportunity for the 
inculcation of this lesson. It must never be for- 
gotten in this connection that we are teaching 
Christianity or nothing. The fundamental fact in 
Christianity is that Christ, the Founder, gave him- 
self for men. Next to this stands the doctrine 
that men must give themselves for others; and 
the third step consists of cases of need, to be 
helped under the guidance of a broad intelligence. 
Fortunately, in the practical aspects of the Chris- 
tian school of benevolence, the great benevolence 
called the cause of Missions comes first. I say 
fortunately, for the reason that that cause is 
generic ; that is, as a principle and as an operation 
it embraces all the common forms of Christian 
helpfulness. Young people, and even children, 
can be easily led to see that this is the case. This 
implies, of course, that they should be rightly 
instructed as to the nature and ends of all mis- 

266 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

sionary work. Indeed, proper instruction must 
underlie all this work in order that it may have its 
true effect as an educational process. 

Mere giving, even if it be systematic, loses 
much of its value in developing character unless 
there is a corresponding growth in intelligence 
as to the obligations and end of such work. This 
brings into view what may be pronounced the 
chief defect in the missionary work among most 
of the young people of our time, namely, the lack 
of full and orderly instruction. There is per- 
haps no point at which the Church needs to look 
more closely into the foundations which it is lay- 
ing for the future expansion of the kingdom of 
Christ. The situation would be greatly helped 
if the International Lesson Committee would pro- 
vide for at least two great missionary lessons each 
year. There would then be a careful study of the 
whole Bible with a view to the selection of the 
best twelve passages in it for the teaching of all 
the scriptural phases of this great doctrine with- 
in the six years' course. These passages, being 
really missionary texts instead of mere incidents 

A Field of Training. 267 

or allusions to be used as pretexts for missionary 
teaching, would furnish within the regular Sun- 
day-school course cardinal truths about which the 
Churches could assemble in an orderly way, and 
in vital relations, a large amount of other mis- 
sionary matter which needs to be taught. Cer- 
tain Sunday schools and Missionary Boards have 
already taken steps to procure such an order if it 
be deemed advisable by the Committee. Mean- 
while the separate denominations can do — some 
of them are doing — quite a considerable amount 
of effective work on this line. This may be done 
( 1 ) by the introduction into the general Sunday- 
school literature as much as practicable of well- 
chosen missionary reading; (2) by the circulation 
within the schools of similar matter prepared and 
furnished through Missionary Boards; (3) by 
short, vital missionary drills before the entire 
school ; (4) by the frequent rendering of mis- 
sionary programmes filled with elements at once 
instructive and inspirational. 

The process of giving is also an important 
item. Giving, in order to be truly educational, 

268 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 


and also to produce good results in mere money, 
ought to be systematic. This is necessary to the 
end that it may become a habit and thus vitally 
affect the character. This systematizing of the 
school's work may be advanced by adopting 
something like the following order : ( i ) Let each 
school resolve itself into a missionary society or 
body, the officers of the school being also the 
officers of the society. This obviates a separate 
organization, and brings it about that every one 
who enters the school thereby enters a missionary 
society. The Church needs to be educated out of 
the habit of seeking to advance this great interest 
through numerous special societies instead of 
doing the work as a whole — as a Church. (2), 
Each school should take an intelligent survey of 
its numbers and abilities, and in view of these 
voluntarily assume a minimum amount to be 
raised for the year. (3) Each class should then 
assume such part of the whole as it may deem 
itself able to give. This readily brings the work 
down to the individual member of the class, and 
brings forcibly to the attention of each his per- 

A Field of Training. 269 

sonal obligation to do such part of the class's 
work as he may be able. (4) Certain days should 
be set apart for missionary giving. The best plan 
has been found to be the setting apart of one 
Sunday in each month, any but the fifth. (5) 
The pupils should be encouraged to produce by 
their own efforts a part at least of the money they 
give. There is some self-expression in a boy's 
remembering the time of the collection, going to 
his parents and asking for the money, taking it 
to the school and placing it in the collection bas- 
ket. But this is not enough. The best educa- 
tional results can be obtained only when the pupil 
derives the means of giving through his own ac- 
tivities. It is at last not our money that God 
wants, but ourselves; and our money is accept- 
able as an act of worship only as it is in some 
good sense an expression of our love for God 
and for men. 

But there are other causes of a benevolent 
nature that the Church seeks to advance by the 
gift of money. All these the Sunday school 
should be trained to take part in. It will be well 

270 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 


in doing this to follow the general plan suggested 
above. These pupils are within a few years to be 
the grown people who will have upon them the 
responsibilities which now belong to their fathers 
and mothers, and their training now will deter- 
mine of what sort they shall be, and how all the 
interests of the Church shall prosper in their 

It is well for the Sunday school to take a part 
in defraying its own expenses for literature, 
equipment, etc. One or two Sabbaths in the year 
might be set apart for this purpose chiefly for 
its educational effect. The support of the school 
ought to be almost wholly a care of the Church, 
and not of the school. While the moral effect of 
helping somewhat will be good for the school, 
the moral effect produced in the Church by its 
recognition and discharge of this duty will be 
found of very great value. 

4. The fourth sphere of training is that of 
service. While the opportunities for personal 
service are not so numerous as those for other 
forms of worship, they are much more numerous 

A Field of Training. 271 

than many superintendents allow. There are 
many ministries in the conduct of the school it- 
self in which the pupils may be of service, and 
especially in connection with special occasions or 
undertakings. Then there are errands of cour- 
tesy, business, and mercy upon which they may 
go during the week. They can be the bearers of 
help to the needy, flowers to the sick, communica- 
tions of condolence to the bereaved. In one com- 
munity where the writer resided there was a blind 
boy whose only means of self-support was the 
manufacture within his own room of a certain 
useful article. He found that as he had to work 
with his hands alone the output was insufficient. 
With a little machinery, worth seventy-five to a 
hundred dollars, he would be easily self-sustain- 
ing. The young people of the Sunday school found 
out his needs, devised their own method of mak- 
ing the money, and within a short time brightened 
the life of the boy by the gift of money enough 
for his full equipment. This empowering of the 
boy for self-support was immensely better than 
many times that amount doled out for his main- 

272 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

tenance. Another case given is that of a very 
aged and poor couple on whose humble home 
there was a small mortgage which became the 
burden of their old age, and which they had no 
hope of being able to discharge. Some generous 
boys found out the situation and quietly set about 
to save and make money enough to pay off the 
mortgage. This they accomplished within a few 
months, and thus brought permanent peace of 
mind to these aged and worthy people. While 
cases like these are somewhat out of the ordinary, 
there is in almost every community some work 
similar in general character which needs to be 
done, and in the doing of which the children and 
young people will be ennobled and enlarged. 

5. Children should be trained to worship. 
The foundation of all true worship is, of course, 
a genuine reverence for God. Worship to be 
acceptable must be offered in spirit and in truth. 
It is thus a matter of the spirit and the mind, and 
can never consist in mere forms of any kind, how- 
ever well conceived and elaborate. And yet a 
certain kind of instruction and a certain use of 

A Field of Training. 273 

forms are necessary to the training of children 
and young people in this kind of divine service. 
While forms are the mere fashion of worship, 
they greatly assist in the expression of worship- 
ful moods and sentiments, and hence minister to 
the inculcation of the more essential elements of 
acceptable and edifying worship. Children are 
led to a fuller understanding and appreciation of 
the nature of reverence for God by being taught 
a proper reverence for the things which are neces- 
sarily related to his worship. These related ele- 
ments consist chiefly of the house of God, the 
word of God, the ministry (which should certain- 
ly embrace the superintendent and teacher), and 
the forms of the common service. 

The training children have in regard to the 
place and associations of the Sunday-school work 
has much to do in determining their feeling to- 
ward the regular church worship. If they are 
practically taught that the Sunday-school place 
and order are chiefly of a social nature, and that 
that element is almost or wholly lacking in the 
more formal services of the church, to go from 

274 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

one to the other will be to pass into a wholly 
different atmosphere, one with a chill upon it. 
While the Sunday-school order should be duly, 
even delightfully social, and in the right sense 
natural, it ought to be throughout, and especially 
in its acts of devotion, deeply reverential. In 
this way the use of the order of worship in the 
Sunday school will prepare the pupil for passing 
into the more formal order of the church service 
without feeling a shock in the transition. The 
real object of the Sunday school on its devotional 
side is to lead up to and into a hearty and intelli- 
gent participation in the congregational worship. 

All children should be taught a proper rever- 
ence for the word of God as the chief instrument 
in the revelation of the will of God to men. This 
does not, of course, mean that they should be filled 
with any merely superstitious regard for the Book 
as such. To make a fetich of it would be to 
destroy the very aim for which it was given ; but 
a due regard for the sacredness of its contents, 
and a high sense of the uses to which they are to 
be applied, are a necessity of genuine and intelli- 

A Field of Training. 275 

gent religion. It not infrequently happens that 
children and young people are led to indulge, 
sometimes by example, in a light, flimsy, and even 
sacrilegious use of sacred texts. Especially is 
this liable to occur in efforts to be smart, both in 
the social circles and Sunday-school classes. This 
misuse of the word of God has become so largely 
a popular order as to demand serious correction 
through the preventive agency of the Sunday- 
school teacher and superintendent. Nothing will 
go further toward effecting this correction and 
preventing further spread of the habit than the 
reverent use of the Bible in the Sunday-school 
services and the right instruction of the children 
and young people in regard to it. 

Reverence for the ministry in the broader sense 
in which I have already used the term is of the 
utmost importance. Indeed, reverence on the 
part of children and young people for their 
seniors and superiors, especially where it has 
large reference to spiritual excellencies, is very 
close akin to worship. He who has lack of rev- 
erence for men, especially of those of the highest 

276 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

mold, is liable in the last analysis to be found 
lacking in reverence for God. Whoever destroys 
in himself and others a reverence for goodness 
and greatness in men is deliberately sawing from 
above his own head the rounds of the ladder by 
which, if at all, he must rise to higher things and 
lead others thither. All criticism of the ministry 
should be carefully avoided in the presence of 
children in the home and in the Sunday school., 
They will readily catch the spirit while oftentimes 
missing the sense of the criticism, if indeed there 
be any sense in it. The man who does not pro- 
foundly reverence the office of the ministry, even 
though its incumbent be clothed in infirmities, is 
lacking in that spiritual sense, and even that com- 
mon sense, necessary to the leadership of the 
young. Ministers come and go, but the office of 
the ministry abides. Children and young people 
fail to discriminate at this point, and hence stric- 
tures which are intended to apply only to the 
preacher as the temporary element they attach to 
the office, which is permanent. It is easy to see, 
therefore, that they are injured at a vital point 

A Field of Training. 277 

in their religious life by the reckless talk too often 
heard in home, Sunday-school, and church circles. 
One of the chief elements in the worship of 
children and young people is that of praise, which 
expresses itself in song. There is no better way 
of teaching even the theological truths of Chris- 
tianity, certainly no better way for impressing its 
noblest sentiments, than is found in the songs of 
the church and Sunday school. It will be found 
valuable, therefore, to require all the grades of 
pupils to memorize a considerable number of the 
best songs in proper variety, so that in their wor- 
ship they shall sing them from memory, and shall 
thus have them present in mind and in heart in all 
the experiences of life. Whoever leads a child 
thoroughly to commit to memory a first-class 
hymn confers a lifelong benefit. There has been 
of late years much improvement in the character 
of the songs used in the Sunday schools. There 
is room for much more. Indeed, the times de- 
mand the creation of an interdenominational com- 
mission on Sunday-school hymnology for the pur- 
pose of selecting from the whole realm of church 

278 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

songs, and especially of Sunday-school songs, 
those which are best adapted to childhood and 
youth, in order that all of the Sunday schools may 
be furnished with a great body of well-adapted, 
vital Sunday-school hymnology, corresponding, 
according to the purpose of it, with the present 
hymnology of the various Churches. This col- 
lection should, of course, exclude all mere trashy 
adventures at rhyming and music writing, and 
should include those songs and tunes which have 
already stood the test of religious need and re- 
fined taste, and have thus won their right to a 
place among the permanent songs of the Church. 
This would not prevent the ready inclusion here- 
after of any thoroughly good hymns as they might 
be produced. With such a body of hymnology, 
the Sunday school would be prepared for a most 
edifying worship through its services of song, and 
one which, as has already been said, appeals espe- 
cially to the young life of the world. It should 
further be provided, in as far as possible, that the 
children and youth of every Sunday school shall 
have proper training in the art of singing, embrac- 

A Field of Training. 279 

ing at least such elementary instruction and prac- 
tice as will enable them to sing readily and cor- 
rectly by note. Probably no better expenditure 
could be made by any school which has at all the 
ability to do so than in the employment of compe- 
tent trainers of this kind. The worship in the Sun- 
day school, begun and conducted under this thor- 
oughgoing and rational order in regard to sing- 
ing, would lead more easily and generally than 
anything else to the participation of our children 
and young people in the services of the general 
congregation. This becomes evident when we 
consider the fact that when there is in these gen- 
eral services an interesting and edifying part, in 
which they are prepared to engage with interest 
and pleasure, they will under the natural impul- 
sions of youth desire to be present and take their 
part. Song is naturally the youth element in re- 
ligious worship. Old people, as a rule, cannot 
sing. Young people, as a rule, cannot but sing. 
And when the youth of the Church have been 
well trained in the Sunday school in this order of 
worship, they will furnish to the congregational 

280 The Kingdom in the Cradle, 

assembly an element of interest and attractiveness 
in the way of congregational singing which is now 
very much lacking. I trust that in this sugges- 
tion there may be found something which will 
help in solving the problem of the attendance of 
children and young people upon the public serv- 
ices of the Church. 

In the development of the spirit and habit of 
worship children need to be taught a proper re- 
gard for the Church as an institution, and a right 
loyalty to it. This can be easily done at the first 
by very simple instruction as to the historic estab- 
lishment of the Church and its purpose and field 
of work. A little later it may perhaps be best 
done by an approach from the denominational 
side. This aspect of the Church has life and rela- 
tions in it, and can easily be made a most inter- 
esting and instructive study. There is a consid- 
erable tendency in this day to discount denomina- 
tionalism as tending to narrowness, and therefore 
to a limitation of spiritual life and work. An 
effort at this kind of broadness is usually disas- 
trous. There is a broadness which comes by 

A Field of Training. 281 

growth and is wholly admirable. There is an- 
other kind which comes by simple extension of 
the same substance. This kind always gains ex- 
tension at the cost of intention. In plain words, 
broadness means a corresponding thinness. It is 
to be feared that indifference to a right denomina- 
tionalism is of this kind. When a man seriously 
avers that one place or locality is as dear to him 
as another, he raises the suspicion that his pa- 
triotism is the patriotism of the tramp. So when 
the churchman of any name or order holds that 
one denomination is as good for him as another, 
he exhibits a type of loyalty that rises no higher. 
Denominationalism under its present order, while 
not yet wholly freed from undesirable features, 
is still nothing more than a regimentation of the 
Church of God for the more convenient and effi- 
cient achievement of the divine will in the sal- 
vation of the world. 

On the other hand, it must be carefully noted 
that there is always danger of an overgrowth of 
the purely denominational idea in the average 
mind. Much harm in the way of limitation has 

282 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

resulted from this tendency. An overgrowth of 
the sectarian sense tends to produce the eccle- 
siastical Philistine rather than the truly aggres- 
sive and cosmopolitan Christian. Such a con- 
summation of denominationalism is to be devoutly 
forestalled in the name and spirit of Him who 
said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, 
will draw all men unto me." 



The relation between the home, the Bible 
school, and the day school is such that the aim 
proposed by the first two cannot be fully accom- 
plished without the reenforcement in religious 
training which the day school is eminently fitted 
to furnish. The time has come for a very thor- 
ough reconsideration of the whole question of 
moral and religious instruction in the public 
schools of the nation. It is hoped that at least a 
brief statement on this subject may prove of some 
interest and value. 

The doctrine of the organic union of the 
Church and the State is a decadent notion, and 
seems to be doomed to extinction. The experi- 
ment has worked disastrously, — sometimes to the 
Church, sometimes to the State, sometimes to 
both. So much is this the case that when the 
slow dissolution of this relation which is now 


86 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

i ^> 

going on is complete, the probability is that the 
relation will never be renewed. 

Nevertheless there is, and in the nature of the 
case must ever be, an essential unity of the Church 
and the State which cannot be overlooked or dis- 
regarded without great detriment to both. In 
thinking the Church and the State apart, men 
usually think them further apart than they really 
are, or can be. This becomes clear on a little ex- 
amination into the elements and interests which 
are common to both. The citizenship in both is 
largely identical. The same is, therefore, true 
of the resources of both. It not infrequently 
happens, and that in a perfectly normal order, 
that the officers set to rule in the State are mem- 
bers of the Church, if not officers in it. The 
moral ends contemplated by both are also much 
the same. The legislation of the State and its 
organization for executing the laws are very 
much the same as the Church would direct if 
these functions lay within its prerogatives. A 
very large part of the State legislation is aimed at 
securing those moral conditions in the conduct of 

Religion in Popular Education. 287 

men for which the Church also labors. It is true 
that the State seeks these ends in a different way 
and with a somewhat different motive, but it ob- 
tains in a large measure the same practical results. 
When there are well-grounded complaints of cor- 
ruption in the State, it is always a grief to the 
discerning churchman both on account of the fact 
and the cause of the fact. Thoughtful men know 
that no permanent corruption of the State is pos- 
sible except by the corruption of its citizenship; 
and they know also that for any general corrup- 
tion of the citizens the Church has a large share 
of responsibility, not of course as having any 
agency in bringing it about, but for allowing it. 
The Church is the divinely appointed guardian 
of the moral and spiritual life of the people, and 
has now in all civilized lands an open field for 
every kind of work necessary to secure the ends 
for which it exists. The statehood element in 
every civilization is the reflected light of the reli- 
gion of the commonwealth. To speak at once 
both figuratively and accurately, the State is the 
mere moonshine of the Church in every Christian 

288 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

civilization, and of religion of some sort in all 

But despite these numerous inherent elements 
of unity, there is one point of variance, if not of 
antagonism, between the Church and the State 
which demands the best attention of our states- 
men, both civic and ecclesiastical. This antag- 
onism is not essential : it is indeed abnormal, but 
it is truly serious. I refer to the question of 
religious instruction within the educational do- 
main occupied by the State. There are in this 
case, as in all cases of serious controversy, ex- 
tremists on both sides, who while they may make 
valuable contributions to the solution of the prob- 
lem will probably never see it solved in full agree- 
ment with the views of either. 

There are those on the part of the Church who 
hold that the State has no inherent right to do 
any educational work whatever except it be a 
limited amount of purely economic or technolog- 
ical training. They hold that the educational 
function is in the nature of the case paternal and 
ecclesiastical, This position contains much truth, 

Religion in Popular Education. 289 

but it possibly contains a fallacy also, growing 
out of a failure to regard those elements of essen- 
tial unity of Church and State which have already 
been mentioned. The fact that the citizenship, 
resources, aims, and even the officiary of the 
Church and State are so largely identical, gives to 
the Church, not as an organization but as a dom- 
inant influence, the opportunity of doing through 
the State a vast amount of valuable educational 
work which, for lack of civic authority and the 
direct command of the popular resources, it is 
itself not in a situation to do. This does not 
mean that the Church should surrender or modify 
its claim of the right to furnish adequate religious 
instruction to all the citizens of the common- 
wealth through all the channels of popular edu- 
cation. It does mean, however, that the Church 
should not fight for a position of victorious an- 
tagonism, but rather for one of gracious, trium- 
phant, dominant influence in all matters affecting 
the religious and moral welfare of the common- 

There are those of the State, on the other hand, 
l 9 

290 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

who hold that popular education does not lie 
within the province of the Church ; that the 
Church's resources are not adequate, and that its 
organization is not adapted to this end ; and that 
the end of popular education is the production 
of a competent citizenship, which makes it pure- 
ly a concern of the State. There is in this posi- 
tion some truth, the recognition of which fact 
is compelled by the candor of righteousness. 
But there is also in it a vast amount of error, 
which has already brought disastrous results, 
and which is destined to bring forth much 
more of the same kind if allowed to grow 
till it gain final ascendency in our national 

In quite a number of the states a most unfor- 
tunate and damaging antagonism between the so- 
called state schools and those of other classifica- 
tions has been produced by lack of wisdom in 
estimating and relating the diversified work of all 
the schools within the commonwealth. Such an- 
tagonisms need not exist, and under wisest coun- 
sels could not exist. There are in every state in 

Religion in Popular Education. 291 

the Union two general classes of schools ; those 
that are fostered by the state in the sense of be- 
ing supported through public taxation ; and those 
which have been founded and are conducted by 
churches, or corporations, or individuals. These 
latter classes not only did the pioneer work in our 
educational history, but they are doing now, to 
say the least of it, as high an order of work as 
are the schools of the former class. These 
schools, in doing thoroughly the work of educa- 
ting and training the children and youth of the 
commonwealth for all the functions of a high and 
effective citizenship, are serving the state as truly 
and as valuably as are the institutions which are 
called state schools for the reason mentioned 
above. The one difference is that they do their 
work without the least cost to the state as such. 
In view of the large identity of aim in the exist- 
ence of both classes of schools, there are no essen- 
tial elements of antagonism, and those which are 
fictitious or incidental ought to be removed. Such 
an adjustment of both classes to the one great end 
to be achieved by both as will make them gen- 

292 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

erally cooperative is altogether possible and much 
to be desired. 

But all mere incidents aside, the assumption 
that a worthy, happy, virtuous, and reliable cit- 
izenship can be produced by any system of merely 
secular education — that is, one from which the 
development of man's religious nature has been 
excluded — is utterly erroneous and hurtful In- 
deed, the leading psychologists and educators of 
our time, in so far as they have spoken on this 
point, are practically unanimous in the position 
that the primary end of education is not knowing, 
but being ; not the mere attainment of knowledge 
and intellectual development, but the production 
of the highest character. Some of them go so 
far as to say on purely psychological grounds that 
no man can be regarded as an educated man with- 
out the development of his religious nature. The 
statements of a few of these as cited by Dr. Coe 
will make this clear. 

J. P. Monroe says : "The question to be asked 
at the end of an educational step is not 'What has 
the child learned?' but, 'What has the child be- 

Religion in Popular Education. 293 

come?' " Professor William James says: "Edu- 
cation cannot be better described than by calling 
it the organization of acquired habits of conduct 
and the tendencies to behavior." Herbert Spen- 
cer: "To prepare us for complete living is the 
function which education has to discharge." H. 
H. Home, in his "Philosophy of Education," 
says: "Education is the eternal process of the 
superior adjustment of the physically and mental- 
ly developed, free, conscious human being to God, 
as manifested in the intellectual, emotional, and 
volitional environment of man." Dr. Nicholas 
Murray Butler says, "Education is a gradual ad- 
justment to the spiritual possessions of the race" ; 
and in the further discussion he places the reli- 
gious inheritance as one of the five to which every 
child is entitled. 

Not only is the view that the development of 
man's religious nature is necessary in order to a 
complete education for the social and civic ends 
of human life well established in the educational 
philosophy of the day, but the leading workers 
in the sphere of public or secular education are 

294 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

speaking the same things out of their experiences 
with the masses. Some of them are freely con- 
fessing that the experiment of divorcing popular 
education from religion is working disastrously, 
and that without the means and opportunities for 
the religious development of the pupils the work 
which they are doing is falling far short of achiev- 
ing as its end the best citizenship — the very end 
at which the public school system is confessedly 

If it be said that while religious education is 
wholesome, and even necessary to the making of 
the desirable citizen, the home and Bible school 
are the places for it, and not the state school, 
there are two sufficient answers at hand. The first 
of these is, that even though this work may be 
having due attention in the home and the Bible 
school, it needs to be supplemented by similar 
work in the day school. The process of education 
is not, as is usually said, a mere preparation for 
life ; it is actual living, and there is no place where 
there is a more vital need of religion as the in- 
spiration of all reliable morality than in the de- 

Religion in Popular Education. 295 

veloping stages of real life, when children and 
young people are coming into a realization and 
use of those relations which stand outside the 
home and connect them with the larger commu- 
nity. It must also be noted that a failure to in- 
culcate or even to recognize religion in the pub- 
lic schools has a direct tendency to contradict the 
impressions made in its favor by the home. The 
child in passing into new hands for guidance and 
into other new relations, and finding that religion 
is ignored, is impressed that it is only a matter of 
the narrower circle of the home, and is thus in- 
jured in his estimate of religion as a fact and 
force in all the relations of society. The second 
answer is, that a vast number, perhaps a majority, 
of pupils have no religious instruction in the 
home, and must either receive it through the pub- 
lic schools, or be trained up as wholly irreligious 
citizens. That element alone furnishes an unan- 
swerable plea for the presence of religious in- 
struction in every grade of public schools. 

As to the mere reading of the Bible in the 
opening exercises of the public schools, there is 

296 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

much more liberty in this than is commonly 
known, and very much more, I fear, than is gen- 
erally used. The facts in the case as set forth 
in the statutory laws of the state, or as deter- 
mined by attorneys general or superintendents of 
public instruction, are as follows : There are 
eleven states in which the reading of the Bible 
is required by law. There are only two states in 
which it is clearly prohibited. In thirty-eight of 
the states the Bible is read in nearly all of the 
schools, and there are only seven in which it is 
not read. It is read in all the schools of the 
District of Columbia under a law of the School 

It is easy to see from this record that in all the 
states but two the religious patrons of the schools 
and the managing committees have it within their 
power to make much of the opportunity thus of- 
fered for the reading of the Bible daily in the 
hearing of the pupils. This much reverently and 
appreciatively done is calculated to wield a large 
influence in behalf of religion and morality. 

This of itself, however, is not sufficient to meet 

Religion in Popular Education. 297 

the demand for the training of the pupils in 
morals and religion. As has already been said, 
there is need for a well-ordered course of reli- 
gious instruction, one which shall be as thorough- 
ly studied and as completely mastered as any oth- 
er course in the school. It does not need to be 
heavy in volume, but it does need to be selected 
and taught in harmony with the same laws of 
pedagogy which prevail in the choice and exe- 
cution of all other courses within the school. It 
is needless to say that the Bible itself should con- 
stitute the major part of this course. As mere 
literature there is nothing comparable to it, wheth- 
er the realm be that of stories, biography, history, 
poetry, philosophy, or ethics. But to study it 
only as literature is not sufficient, though inci- 
dentally of very great value. The supreme ob- 
ject of this study should be the establishment of 
the pupils in a truly moral and religious character, 
fitting them for the discharge of the duties of all 
life's relations from the standpoint of the Bible. 
The teaching of the Bible as mere literature, how- 
ever ably done, can never accomplish the ends 

298 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

aimed at in religious instruction. In order to 
this, the divine imperative must be recognized and 
felt. It is as the word of God, and not merely as 
a great book, that the Bible must be handled if 
its spiritual force is to be fully realized. 

If it be said that such an adjustment is moral- 
ly and otherwise a difficult undertaking, I should 
venture the reply that it is not so difficult as many 
imagine, and that moreover it is worth any 
amount of labor and cost. It is altogether pos- 
sible for a council of religious representatives in 
each state to prepare in harmony with the reli- 
gious demands of the commonwealth a course of 
instruction embracing all that is essential to a 
high moral and religious character, and to do this 
in such wise as to leave no room for sectarian in- 
fluences, and no ground for objection on the part 
of any who, all religious notions aside, desire the 
best welfare of the citizens of the state. Ex- 
periments of this kind have been made on a small 
scale, and have proved the plan successful. It 
has thus been demonstrated that it is not really 
difficult to produce a course which will not prove 

Religion in Popular Education. 299 

objectionable to even the narrowest sectarians, at 
least after they have had opportunity to see the 
benefits which accrue to all pupils alike. Some- 
thing of this kind will of necessity come about. 
The notion that men can be prepared for bear- 
ing the burdens and peculiar temptations inci- 
dent to the life of a great republic in which the 
character of the citizen is the only security of 
the government, without adequate moral and re- 
ligious instruction and training in the years of 
mental development, is too visibly false to require 
serious contradiction. 

There is reason to believe that the present in- 
sufficient order in the matter of religious teaching 
in the schools of the state is largely due to in- 
difference on the part of the Churches; or at 
least to a failure to make that concerted action 
necessary to the procurement of a larger and 
better furnishing of the pupils with the truths 
and inspirations of religion. As an indication of 
the readiness of the people to receive at least 
some amount of religious instruction, I beg to 
cite a statement from the forty-ninth report of 

300 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

the superintendent of public instruction for the 
state of New York. Let it be noted that the most 
mixed or cosmopolitan citizenship in the United 
States is probably that of the city of New York. 
Superintendent Skinner says : "During the seven- 
teen years that I have been connected with the 
department, I have never known of an appeal or 
protest from an inhabitant of the city of New 
York with reference to reading the Bible in the 
schools of that city, although it has been daily 
read in every one therein during all that period." 
Half the children of school age in the state live 
within the city of New York. 

The National Educational Association, one of 
the most influential educational organizations in 
the United States, and yet not a religious body, 
in its annual report for 1902 says: "We regard 
true education as inseparable from morality, and 
believe that the public school is the recognized 
agency to make this relation binding. We urge 
public school authorities of the country, teachers 
and parents, to give strict attention to moral in- 
struction in our schools as the true foundation of 

Religion in Popular Education. 301 

character and citizenship. Every consideration 
of good policy and healthful social conditions 
points to the necessity of such instruction; the 
testimony of educational leaders justifies it, and 
an overwhelming public opinion demands it. We 
plead not for sectarian training of any kind, but 
for that moral instruction which must underlie 
true life and character." In speaking further of 
the use of the Bible in the public schools, the As- 
sociation says : "We do not urge this in the inter- 
est of sectarian instruction of any kind, but that 
this great book may ever be the teacher's aid in 
the interpretation of history and literature, law 
and life — an unrivaled agency in the development 
of true citizenship, as well as in the formation of 
pure literary style." 

A broad and thoroughgoing movement on the 
part of the religious elements in each of the 
several states, in behalf of a suitable course of re- 
ligious instruction, would doubtless in most cases 
find a ready and generous response on the part 
of the legislatures in control. It would be need- 
ful, of course, that it should be apparent from 

302 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

the start that all sectarian advancement had been 
laid aside, and that the movement itself was an 
adjustment of all the denominations to the single 
end of a fuller and more effective order of reli- 
gious instruction. A patriotic movement of this 
kind, from the standpoint of a pure and unselfish 
regard for the moral welfare of the whole people, 
could not but command the respect and sympathy 
of the citizens at large. 

With a suitable course of religious instruction 
in the public schools, we should have, with the 
home and Sunday school, such an organization 
or coordination of religious forces as is called for 
by the nature of the Christian religion and by the 
genius of our people and our form of government. 
The thorough cooperation of these three institu- 
tions, each in accord with its peculiar nature and 
with its place in the social fabric, would produce 
a citizenship in whose keeping the sacred interests 
of the Church, the home, and the state would be 
perpetually safe. 

While we await, and work for, the coming of 
the better order which has been mentioned above, 

Religion in Popular Education. 303 

there are two things which the religious people 
of every commonwealth can do with very large 
profit to all the children and young people under 
instruction. The first of these is, to use all prop- 
er means to provide that the education of the 
children shall be committed only to teachers of 
high personal character, who both by the exam- 
ple of their lives and the moral tone of their 
teaching shall guide the children into right views 
of character and of life. The Bible embodied in 
the character of the teacher is one of its most 
effective forms for the achievement of all the 
moral and religious ends at which it aims. The 
second thing is, to see that the religious order 
now provided for by the state, or allowed, shall 
be so used as to bring about the largest amount 
and best quality of religious instruction of which 
it admits. 




"A general return to the Christianity of 
Christ," says Professor Bruce, "would have a 
most important effect upon the religious training 
of the young. At present, it is to be feared, this 
department of the Church's work suffers greatly 
from our being in a transition time." 1 

The trouble is really a more radical one than 
that involved in any mere transition of the Church 
from one state to another. It lies, as has already 
been shown, in a failure of the Church to hold 
steadfastly to its main function, which is one of 
training. Dogmatism is good enough in its place 
— and it has a place of importance — but it cannot 
make habit, character, life. These are the prod- 
ucts of training only; and just as they are in 
reality the chief ends aimed at by the Church's 
existence, training is rationally the only method 
of dealing adequately with the young. 

1 "The Kingdom of God," page 350. 


2o8 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

I have endeavored to show that the Church by 
properly directing its included institutions, the 
home and the Sunday school, and the related in- 
stitution now known as public education, can 
accomplish in a more successful way than has 
yet been done, the vast work committed to it by 
its divine Master. This does not, however, imply 
that the home and the Sunday school, even if 
properly used, are the whole of the Church. 
They are the means for the production of a 
properly equipped Church which has its distinct 
functions to perform, and without the perform- 
ance of which the work of Christ for the saving 
of man cannot be accomplished. 

A full recognition on the part of the Church 
that its chief function is to train the young will 
lead to two steps in particular which are of the 
utmost importance. One of these is the creation 
of an order of architecture demanded by the 
training idea ; and the other is a better use of the 
pulpit for the achievement of educational results. 

Every person of experience knows how vitally 
the comfort and well-being of a family are af- 

The Church Through All. 309 

fected by the family domicile. The home, in 
the sense of the house inhabited, has very much 
to do with questions of intellectual and moral 
growth as well as of physical health and com- 
fort. No more important subject can engage the 
thought of men on the material side of human 
life. The same is true in a corresponding meas- 
ure of the Church home. And yet no interest 
has been more neglected. We have been content 
to waste vast sums of money on exterior and 
nonessential conditions to the neglect of interior 
arrangements which are utterly necessary if the 
training notion is to be carried out. It is true 
that with the growth of interest in child life on 
its religious side, there has come a most en- 
couraging improvement in church building. But 
the present status shows how desultory has been 
this growth and how still partial it is. What is 
demanded is a thoroughgoing reorganization of 
church architecture and the exclusive use of a 
kind fully adapted to the training of the young 
through all the grades of development. If the 
Church is to be indeed a school of Christ, the 

310 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

church edifice ought to be a schoolhouse of reli- 
gion; and if the training which the Church im- 
parts is to extend to all the branches of religious 
activity demanded by the complex social order 
of the times, there must be a corresponding equip- 
ment in the places and appointments of training. 
It is easy to see that nothing which the Church 
could do would be more effectual in teaching 
the public that the primary aim of the Church is 
the religious education of the young, than to 
change its architecture so as to adapt it to that 
end. Many changes are being made in that di- 
rection, and most of the new houses are being 
built with at least some reference to the exist- 
ence of children and their rights and needs in 
relation to the kingdom of God. These move- 
ments are in the main merely of individual con- 
gregations, and are subject to all the incidents 
of ignorance and incompetent local leadership. 
Instead of this, a denominational order at least 
should prevail; that is, each denomination might 
have a competent commission to determine what 
is the best order of house for the work of the 

The Church Through All. 311 

Church, due regard being had for the various 
costs to be undergone. At the very least, no 
Church Extension Board or Society should keep 
on hand or furnish any plan which does not make 
proper provision for the children of the Church. 
Even a small chapel, so plain as to cost no more 
than five hundred dollars, may be so constructed 
as to have one part which can be shut off from the 
main room for the use of the primary department 
in Sunday-school work. On account of the lack 
of such assistance and direction, there are now 
hundreds, perhaps thousands, of communities 
which are building, or have just finished, houses 
that with the progress of the new thought will 
within a decade be so unsuited to what will then 
be the most cherished work of the congregation 
that they will be changed or rebuilt at large cost. 
The communion which does not have regard 
henceforth for the religious education of its chil- 
dren is doomed to become very soon a decadent 
Church; and the church building which is not 
constructed with large reference to this end will 
in a short time be a superannuated structure. 

3 12 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

But there is another function, belonging to the 
Church and touching this matter, which stands 
far above all outward appointments, however im- 
portant they may be in their place. I refer to the 
teaching order of the pulpit itself. The pulpit 
has been and is still regarded as in some vital re- 
spects the very top and forefront of the Church. 
It holds the words of eternal life. It determines 
the drift of Christian thinking and experience. 
It has much to do, therefore, in regulating the eth- 
ical views of the individual and the community. 
This is an exceedingly important office, and must 
ever remain so. The value of the pulpit in serv- 
ing the public in this way can, indeed, scarcely 
be overestimated. But all this can be better done, 
and at the same time include other ends which are 
fully as important, by beginning further back, 
and by the use of a somewhat different method. 
The pulpit needs to be made the chief teaching 
function of the Church. It must, of course, re- 
tain other functions ; but this should be made the 
foremost, and should at least give type and di- 
rection to all that lies beneath. In order to meet 

The Church Through All. 313 

adequately the demands of the hour, the desultory 
elements need to be eliminated and a more sys- 
tematic order adopted. Every congregation has 
the right to expect that a definite plan shall be 
used for the instruction, inspiration, and guid- 
ance of the people. No preacher can afford to 
fall short of such an ideal for himself as the 
leader of all the educational and inspirational 
forces of the Church of Christ. This implies, of 
course, that an order which is more truly peda- 
gogical in its character shall rest at the bottom 
of the preacher's plan of service. The plan of 
work on the part of every Christian pulpit should 
be as genuinely educational and as thoroughly 
systematized as is that of any college department 
or university chair. This is necessary in order 
to the greatest personal efficiency on the part of 
the pastor, in both the doing of his own work as 
a preacher and in leading the Church success- 
fully in the doing of its work. There is perhaps 
no deeper utterance in the Old Testament than 
that the people perish for lack of knowledge. 
This demand for instruction from the pulpit can 

314 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

no more be met by the desultory order so often 
pursued than an occasional Nero's feast could 
supply the demand of the people for daily bread. 
The true aim of the pulpit is to build men up in 
the faith and knowledge of God ; and the preach- 
er, to fulfill the divine purpose, must be in the 
truest sense a teacher in all holy things. It is 
scarcely to be doubted that the day of the great- 
est preaching is in the future rather than in the 
past, but on an order of demand which shall differ 
widely from that which has heretofore deter- 
mined so largely the policy of the pulpit. 

This brings forward the suggestion that the 
pursuance on the part of the Church of the edu- 
cational process of which I have been speaking 
will go very far toward determining the themes 
of the pulpit. It has always been true that those 
preachers who have recognized that the deepest 
and most abiding interest of men roots itself in 
the common relations of life, and have conducted 
their ministry on this notion, have taken the 
strongest and most permanent hold upon the con- 
fidence and esteem of their hearers. This will 

The Church Through All. 315 

be even more so under a more thoroughly educa- 
tional order. This change will have a dispiriting 
effect upon the makers and lovers of big sermons, 
on sporadic themes according to the status or 
drift of popular interest, but it will work a cor- 
responding change in the quality of our preach- 
ing for edifying those who hear. As has already 
been said, there are no themes which in them- 
selves interest men more than those pertaining 
to the common relations of life; and when these 
are dealt with discerningly, and with due delicacy 
and sympathy, they furnish endless entertain- 
ment as well as edification. 

This educational order demands that the pul- 
pit shall deal plainly and adequately with such 
themes as marriage; the family; the responsibil- 
ities, opportunities, and duties of parents ; the ob- 
ligations and duties of children; the relations of 
individuals and of the family to society ; the du- 
ties of society, especially in its civic forms, to 
individuals and to the family. More than one of 
these general themes will easily include such sub- 
jects as the value of the child; the right of every 

316 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

person to the development of the faculties with 
which he is endowed; hence the subject of Chris- 
tian education in its various forms, whether con- 
ducted by the Church directly or indirectly 
through the State. There is also here the neces- 
sary inclusion of various sociological and civic 
questions as immediately related to the religious 
and social welfare of men. The treatment of 
such subjects in their right relations will free 
them from that objectionable and injurious sen- 
sationalism which so often characterizes the dis- 
cussions of them in the present day. Moreover, 
the home and earlier Church life of the people is 
the sphere in which to settle most, if not all, of 
the perplexing questions of social and civic life. 
It follows hence that the pulpit, by the right di- 
rection of all the forces within the Church, may 
not only become of controlling influence when it 
speaks in such matters, but may have many of 
them so clearly settled in advance as to prevent 
their becoming disturbing issues. Temperance, 
for example, is in almost every community both 
a social and a civic issue. A brilliant fulmination 

The Church Through All. 317 

now and then before audiences of adult people 
doubtless does some good ; but the systematic in- 
struction of one generation of children is at last 
the only hope for a temperate population, whose 
social customs and civil provisions shall at once 
reflect and reenforce the teachings and habits of 
the home and the school. 

The glow of one of our Saviour's profoundest 
utterances falls constantly upon this whole field, 
namely this, that the children of this world are 
wiser in their generation, or order of things, than 
the children of light. The general meaning is, 
that the children of this world adapt the means 
to the ends. They proceed more in accordance 
with the laws prevailing in the realms where they 
work. They are, in other words, more rational 
and scientific in their search for results. They 
do not hope to obtain invariable and universal re- 
sults from desultory methods, or have permanent 
effects from intermittent forces. If the methods 
commonly adopted by the Church were to be 
used in the world of commerce they would bring 
universal bankruptcy; and if in the sphere of 

3*8 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

statesmanship, the nations would become involved 
in hopeless and deadly entanglements. 

The greatest economic demand of the hour is 
for a Church statesmanship broad enough to em- 
brace all the interests of humanity within its sym- 
pathies, and wise enough to construct plans of 
movement which shall direct all our activities in 
harmony with those laws of life and growth by 
which alone the kingdom of God among men can 
become universal and complete. Jesus has given 
us both this inspiration and a general plan. He 
has taught us with indubitable plainness through 
two dispensations that he has a kingdom in the 
cradle ; that the chief work of the Church is to lay 
hold of this cradled host, keep it within the king- 
dom, and conduct its development in harmony 
with the plainly written laws of life and growth, 
till it reaches a perfected manhood. This order, 
which God has clearly prescribed in both the man 
and the book, cannot fail of those general results 
called for by the law of the harvest, whether the 
circle be that of the individual, the family, the 
community, or the race. It is true that cases of 

The Church Through All. 319 

blight now occur in the midst of the most fruit- 
ful fields, and may continue to do so until the end. 
It is also true that the blight comes about by a 
law which, while very occult, is as truly a law 
as is that by which the golden grain comes to the 
harvest. But as no sane mind would discredit 
the method of seed sowing and proper cultivation 
as a means of obtaining a crop because of the 
occurrence of a few ears of blight or blast within 
the well-tilled field, so the failure of the educa- 
tional process to bring forth invariably the re- 
sults desired does not stand against the plan. 

I have said that the period of greatest preach- 
ing is in the future rather than in the past. This 
is almost, but not wholly, equal to saying that the 
period of greatest influence and power on the 
part of the preacher himself, in his relations with 
the community, is in the future rather than in 
the past. Under the order about which this vol- 
ume is conversant, the deepened and widened field 
of the ministry will call for a larger leadership, 
and the ministry will adequately respond. The 
world will be quick to recognize this enlarged and 

32o The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

vitalized service of the preacher, and to respond 
to it by giving him his proper place at the head of 
human agencies for the good of man in every 
sphere of interest. This will have its due influ- 
ence in determining the class of men to occupy 
this exalted place, and the equipment which they 
are to have for their sacred and useful office. 
When it comes to be recognized that the work 
of the ministry is indeed the highest class of 
educational work; that it lays its hand upon the 
very sources of life, and thereby determines not 
only its religious but its social and civic direc- 
tion ; that the preacher is in fact a kingdom build- 
er in the truest sense, the ministry will have 
charms for young men of the highest order of 
ability, the largest attainments, and the most in- 
fluential estates, which in many periods of the 
Church's history it has not had. This does not 
discount the call to the ministry, but looks only in 
the direction of the many who are called, but 
who, in the din of the world's clamor for men, do 
not hear or heed the call. This order will also 
develop a lay ministry of the most valuable class. 

The Church Through All. 321 

Laymen of the largest endowments, scholarship, 
and consecration will then be able to enter the 
work of the Church without ordination to any 
exclusive ministry of the word, but with such 
breadth and heartiness as will make their work in 
substance wholly one with that of their brethren 
who are in orders. 

In the course of this discussion we have seen 
that the kingdom of heaven is to be commen- 
surate with the race; that it is to come about 
through a process of growth which is chiefly 
from within; that the ultimate prevalence of 
this kingdom is assured by the outgrowing pow- 
er of Christianity as compared with all other 
systems of faith; that for the best results from 
this principle of growth the religious culture of 
men must be begun in very early life; that for 
the achievement of this purpose the atmospheres, 
and later the instruction and training, of the 
home are the chief agencies; that in the later 
work of training, the Sunday school and even 
the day school play a very important part, and 
that the rationale of all these educational agen- 

322 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

cies and processes lies far back of them and is 
found in a unique doctrine of our Lord. That 
doctrine is that he has already a . kingdom in 
the cradle, and along with it is the closely re- 
lated doctrine that the chief work of the Church 
in obeying his command to disciple the nations 
is to so train these constituents of the kingdom 
that they shall come to maturity, not as the result 
of accidental movements, but under the opera- 
tion of laws which are normal and universal. 

In saying that these laws of religious growth 
are universal I do not mean to say that they are 
as to results unexceptional ; for while the law of 
growth as from seed is the uniform doctrine 
touching the expansion or development of the 
kingdom both in the individual believer and in 
the community life of men, there is another law, 
the law of free agency, which cannot be contra- 
vened. It is not held that any amount of train- 
ing can or shall take from men the ability and 
responsibility of free and persistent choice. 
Men well trained in the elements of a religious 
life can and sometimes do choose and follow a 

The Church Through All 323 

life of sin. Others, despite much ignorance and 
positive misguidance, do ch'oose to follow the 
good. But these cases are exceptional in both 
directions. The law mentioned really obtains 
with remarkable uniformity. It cannot but be 
true in religion, as in other things, that men at- 
tain easiest and most surely to that toward which 
they are trained from infancy. 

The establishment of holy prejudices in chil- 
dren is one of the highest duties of parents and 
of the Church. It is a debt which both owe to 
the young; the rightful heritage of children out 
of the experience and wisdom of their prede- 
cessors, vastly more valuable than those perish- 
able inheritances on which so much of care is 
bestowed. Under proper conditions this course 
involves none of that dreaded narrowness of 
which so much talk is heard in these times, nor 
does it imply any undesirable limitations upon 
individualism. It is indeed the plain way to the 
largest freedom in after life, and to a broadness 
which is not purchased at the price of shallow- 

324 The Kingdom in the Cradle. 

It is granted that the doctrine of the kingdom 
in the cradle involves conclusions of large and 
even revolutionary import. Some of these are 
theological, some philosophic, but in the main 
they are economic ; that is, they pertain to meth- 
ods of movement on the part of the Church for 
the achievement of the practical ends for which 
it exists. The Church is, for example, justly 
busied with such questions as temperance, social 
purity, commercial integrity, civic righteousness, 
and philanthropic sociology in its varied forms. 
But these great questions which cover so large 
a part of man's life cannot be settled by being 
treated in the abstract, nor by even the most 
powerful appeals to grown-up populations who 
are already under the domination of self-interest 
of the lower sort, and have become fully estab- 
lished in the forms of sin which the Church 
thus seeks to resist. Sermons full of great, con- 
vincing, courageous utterances do affect the eth- 
ical tone of communities, and save some indi- 
viduals from these evils, but they do not save 
society. All these problems come afresh to the 

The Church Through All. 3 2 5 

altar of their only available solution when with 
each year nearly fifty millions of children are 
born into the world. In that direction alone lies 
the hope of a saved society, a regenerated race. 
The largest economic question in the modern 
Church has been and still is: How shall we 
reach the masses? The true answer is: Reach 
them in the cradle, or you shall not reach them 
at all. 

Worth Carolina S*ate Library 


GC 268.432 A873k 

Atkins, James, 1850-1923. 
The kingdom in the cradle, 

3 3091 00138 3538 


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OCT R 1! 


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The kingdom in the cradle 

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